Sound — 10
I can't believe no one has reviewed this already! I believe this to be Rush's finest hour. Maybe it can't match '2112' for classic status or 'Moving Pictures' for sheer popularity, yet it remains a criminally overlooked album and is perhaps the last album Rush made as a through-and-through prog rock band. 'Hemispheres' is a fine opening medley and ranks among the best ultra-long Rush tracks. La Villa Strangiato is nothing short of a breathtaking closer and 'The Trees' is also a beautiful track. 'Circumstances' is most probably the weakest track as it lacks the excitement of other tracks although it is by no means a bad track. None of the songs on the album were ever going to be big hits, however, this album was never meant to be split into singles and works solely on the basis that it is a finely crafted album filled with top songs. Alex Lifeson delivers some particularly fine guitar work during 'La Villa...' and indeed during the whole album. Geddy Lee's thundering Rickenbacker 4001 bass and Peart's ultra-tight drumwork provide a solid and exciting rhythm section. Lee also uses a Moog synthesiser here.
Lyrics — 9
Once again, Neil Peart excels with the lyrics. OK, he has been criticised for being 'pretentious', but who cares? On all Rush albums, it is the music that stands out more, and Peart's drumwork is more highly praised than his lyrics. Nevertheless, his lyrics augment the music perfectly, turning Hemispheres into a particularly fantastic flight of fantasy. The lack of lyrics on 'La Villa Strangiato' is perhaps a reflection of ther fact that the track was based on one of Lifeson's dreams and he may have wanted to 'let the music do the talking'. Geddy Lee's vocals, as ever, can shatter glass at a hundred paces and complement the music perfectly.
Overall Impression — 10
Although 'Permanent Waves' would come along two years later and forever put 'Hemispheres' in the shade, it is still a magnificent album and has too many class moments to mention. As with any album of this type, there are classic moments and slow moments designed to build suspense. However, it is an enthralling listen and is perhaps the best document of the sound of Rush.