RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Rush - Clockwork Angels
Roadrunner Records


Rating: B+

Rush is back and in a big way. This is, hands down, the best album the band has released in twenty years. The music is stellar, the producer crisp and the lyrical content enchanting. The album is full of cool surprises, from the time on the cover of the album, 9:12, which if it is PM would be 21:12, the same name as a classic Rush album, to the fact that Alex Lifeson actually plays guitar solos once again -- not just riffs but balls to the wall guitar playing, Clockwork Angels will more than satisfy an already rabid fan base.

While there is no obvious hit single, the album, taken as a whole, is dynamic and will keep the listener engaged. This is a throwback to the days where you listened not to one or two songs but rather the entire body of work in each sitting. Rush has created a timeless work that harkens back to their past without relying on their past. You can't point to a song and say it belongs here or there in their past catalog, as each song belongs on this album. Yet the band seem engaged enough to realize that this is an album that gives the people what they want. The opening two songs, "Caravan" and "BU2B" have been around a while and the fans are well aware of them. In fact, because these songs are so strong, anticipation for the album has reached fever pitch among Rush fanatics.

The best tunes here are "The Anarchist," "Seven Cities of Gold," "Headlong Flight" and "Clockwork Angels." Each of these songs clocks in at over six minutes, with two of them well over seven. Rush spends the time building rhythms, creating musical peaks and valleys and pulling off some amazing instrumental passages. The guitar solo on "Headlong Flight" is smokin' and one of the best Alex has done in many moons. It is wonderful to see Rush not afraid to explore many different musical shades this time around.

At the end of the day, Rush will do well with this album, which is sure to be sought after by the classic rock buying public. This one is so good that the diehard fans will want the album played in it's entirety on tour. While this is unlikely to happen, suffice it to say that when Rush trots out new tunes, fists will be pumping in the air, and unlike many of their contemporaries, they will not have to look out from the stage and witness people going to the potty or to get another beer, as Rush fans will relish in the new music. And they should because it's that good.

By Jeb Wright