Sound — 7
Hailing from a distant 1984, Rush's Grace Under Pressure is a time capsule of sorts that forces the listener to journey back to a time when synthesizers ruled, and it was either adapt or be left behind. From the sound of this album, Rush definetely adapted. With the huge success of Moving Pictures in 1981, Rush were free to experiment with technology, and their song structures. Grace Under Pressure brings Lee's Keyboard skills to the forefront of Rush's music, creating a space of atmosphere commonly related to the 80's new wave movement, whilst still keeping the rock that made them such an intrigueing band to begin with. With the songs on Grace Under Pressure being around 4 - 5 minutes, Rush were able to concentrate more on the actual melodies of a song, rather than having to fill up extra minutes of instrumental jargon, which generally turned non-musicians away. While Lee's trademark bass sound takes a breather on this album, and Peart's drumming is suitable for easy listening, Lifeson's guitar work shines. He creates a wall of sound, glistening like a shining diamond throughout the entire record, similar to U2's The Edge. Although the overall sound of this album may be a bit cheesy by todays standards, it's a sound that many of the new bands coming out are re-creating. The Killers owe some of their success to this era of Rush's career.
Lyrics — 8
Although this was not a concept album like their previous releases, it does seem to have a general theme about struggle, and being on the brink of extinction. Once again, Drummer Peart deals with the lyrics, and creates a canvas of images that just about anyone can understand. The opening track 'Distant Early Warning' deals with the fear of a nuclear holocaust, while 'Red Sector A' recounts Lee's mother's experience of being a prisoner during the actual Holocaust, a powerful song that strikes a fearful emotion within the listener, making you feel like you're right there with her. 'The Enemy Within' is also part 1 of the Fear chronicles, and showcases our fears and phobias. Lee's vocals on this record are strong and powerful. He doesn't hold back with his message, commanding a much deeper tone of voice throughout. His best performance is on 'Red Sector A', as you can literally feel the desperation in his voice: "Are we the last one's left alive? Are we the only human beings to survive?". For those who don't like his earlier work with the high pitch, this may be more your style.
Overall Impression — 7
Compared to their other albums, Grace Under Pressure seems to lay low as the underdog. It's a much darker album, and bleeds raw emotion rather than expansive storylines. Standout tracks on the album are 'Distant Early Warning', 'Red Sector A', 'The Enemy Within', and the album closer 'Between The Wheels' with it's thumping keyboards and heavy distortion that demands attention. The thing I love about this album is that it's an easy listen with lots of emotion to dwell on. Lee's vocal performance is consistent throughout, and will pull you into the spacey trance of the music. One negative aspect of the record is that the keyboards are too prominent in each song, and should have been pulled back. Then again, it was 1984. If I lost this album, I would either buy it again, or another of Rush's records.