Sound — 7
Vapor Trails is Rush's seventeenth and second most recent studio album (not counting the cover album "Feedback")to date. Rush goes about things a different way this time through then before, and you won't be hearing a lot of the things you might expect from a normal Rush album, such as lots of usage of synth or even guitar solos. The albums sound is. Well. Loud. And that's not to say it's bad, but the album is certainly not as well constructed and mixed as many of their previous albums which were essentially masterpieces. Instead of becoming softer, gentler, and more mellow, generally the music on this album has done quite the opposite: picked up the pace, gotten louder, and even more distorted. Alex Lifeson's guitar is good as always, but is somewhat lacking, and is definitely not up to par with what we're used to getting from Lifeson. You also have to miss all the guitar solos that you're used to hearing Alex let out, which have almost entirely been cut in this album. On the upside however, Neil Peart and Geddy Lee's instrumentation is just as great as ever. From amazingly fast drum beats and rhythms to crazy drum fills, Neil Peart has it all here, and any drummer should check out this guy if they want to hear a real pro. Likewise, Geddy Lee's bass playing is still great and a dominant feature in the music as we expect. The bass isn't simple, and is loud and complicated enough to really grab the listeners attention throughout the songs. The balance of the band is off, and almost every song on the album sounds similar in one way or another. So, over all, the musicians are great, there's no doubt about it, but this is clearly not their best work. It's decent, but not spectacular.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics on this album for the most part are very deep, personal, and emotional. Neil Peart has once again shown himself as a talented lyricist and for the most part they are great. From "Ghost Rider" about Neil dealing with the recent losses of his daughter and wife to "Peaceable Kingdom", a song relating to the events of September 11th. For vocals, it seems obvious to anyone familiar with Geddy's voice that it has matured quite a bit, and no longer seems to be limited to the shrieking label that seems to be stuck to him. He shows on this album that he can also still sing clearly, and doesn't always reach up into a super high octave to achieve his fullest singing potential. The lyrics and vocals on this album, in my opinion, is the highlight of the album.
Overall Impression — 6
When I first bought this album and put it in the CD player, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. The music? It was good. But it wasn't Rush. This album really felt like a different band, not in the sound of the instruments, but in how they were played and the structure of the songs. Some of the better songs on this album for me are "The Stars Look Down" and "Sweet Miracle". To be brutally honest, this is my least favourite Rush album. That's not saying it's awful, I still think it's great, it's just nowhere near what you're going to expect. So, if you're a Rush fan and have heard all their other stuff, pick it up. You might not like it THAT much, but it's worth a listen if you're a fan. If you've never heard any Rush before, try something else, like "2112", "Moving Pictures", or "Hemispheres". Overall, I was dissapointed by this as a Rush album, but somewhat impressed by it as a album in general.