Sound — 9
Snakes & Arrows is Rush's 18th full-length studio album, and most recent to date. After over 30 years of studio albums, live albums, compilations, videos, and tours, you're bound to expect something you've already heard 100 times, or a total lack of ideas. Thankfully in this case neither are true, in fact, Snakes & Arrows in my eyes is one of their greatest works yet. Out of the thirteen tracks on this album, not a single one is dissapointing. The band seems to have gotten even tighter with their sound then ever before; each instrument locking into place with the other to create a sound rivaled by very few in this age. When one instrument pulls back, another jumps in a bit more to fill the gap left behind, leaving the sound full and nearly flawless in every aspect. The songs are fairly long, usually around 5-7 minutes each, but if you are expecting a few epic masterpieces rather then several normal lengthed songs you may be disappointed. Although at times I find some songs seem to have the same general form, or the same sound and feeling to them, for the most part each song is captivating and will draw you into the music. The three musicians in the band - Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson - perform not only nearly perfect in their song writing but also in their instrumentation and musical skill. Geddy Lee's bass playing has gotten nothing but better; a dominant, important, and almost always interesting part of every song. Geddy is great at both supporting the rest of the band while also often showcasing his talents and becoming a strong focus of the music. On both electric and acoustic guitars Alex Lifeson proves to us that he is not yet done with music. From amazing electric guitar solos to awesome acoustic passages he delivers greater then you might expect. Finally, Neil Peart's drumming is also nothing less than spectacular. From intense drum fills to crazy beats, he'll leave you completely satisfied. Overall, this album is just fantastic. Full of great songs that are well constructed and contain spectacular instrumentation, there's hardly anything that's wrong with this album. Sure, some of the songs can be similar sounding, but it's not enough to really get in the way.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics, written by the band's drummer Neil Peart, are up to par with what you'd expect from Rush: full of emotion and deeper meaning. The message on the surface is rarely all that there is to the songs, looking deeper into the lyrics often lead you to discovering a new meaning behind what appear to simply be words. On actual vocals, Geddy Lee does great. On top of the high pitched singing and screeching that seem to go hand-in-hand with his name, it's obvious that his ability to sing has gotten even better. No longer limited to his signature style of singing, and is also able to sing more mellow and calm stuff without ruining the mood.
Overall Impression — 10
This album is great, and can't be described as anything less than a masterpiece. Full of interesting concepts, song structures, lyrics, instrumentation, and vocals, this album will leave you wanting more. It's hard to pick favourite tracks from this album, but the acoustic instrumental "Hope" has always been near the top of my list, along with "The Way the Wind Blows", "Faithless", and "Armor and Sword". If you are a fan of Rush, pick this up now. If you haven't heard any Rush and are interested in giving them a listen, this is a good a place as any to start listening. If you hate Rush, I suggest you go cry silently in the corner, because they as amazing as music gets.