New Rush album promises to harken back to 1980s sound, but with more aggressive style

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Rush fans are gearing up for an exciting 2012, with an official release date finally surfacing for the latest album, Clockwork Angels (that’s No. 20 if you include the Feedback EP) – mark your calendars: June 12. This follows the upcoming release of the new single, “Headlong Flight,” on April 19, which itself follows, by nearly two full years, the Caravan/BU2B single that launched the Time Machine Tour in 2010.

So far only a few very lucky jerks people have been invited to hear anything from the album, but descriptions from a recent listening session for “Headlong Flight” described it as harkening back to an ’80s sound, but more aggressive in style.

“Keyboards with heavy guitars” is a general description I found in several places, but interestingly enough, the 30-second clip that the band released sounds a lot more like their very early material. Anyone hear some “Bastille Day” in this?

Rush recorded the new album with producer Nick Raskulinecz, who produced 2007’s Snakes & Arrows and has a name I don’t want to have to pronounce or even spell all that often (read: I resort to copy/paste.) He brought with him the sound and style that made the Foo Fighters a much more aggressive sounding band while under his helm starting with their 2002 album, One By One, among many others bands, but mostly he brought a youthful energy that sought to dig up some sounds of the band’s past. That appears to continue with Clockwork Angels. Not only that, but the now mostly confirmed rumor of a concept album resurrects a very early identity of the band from a time many fans consider to be their heyday.

Also notable is the cover’s clock set conspicuously to 9:12, otherwise known in military time as, you guessed it, 21:12. Are we seeing a prequel to their epic here, or is it just more playful imagery that the band is often known for? Perhaps the answers will be best explained in the novelization of the album being written by sci-fi author Kevin J. Anderson.

Here’s the official tracklisting …
Clockwork Angels
The Anarchist
Halo Effect
Seven Cities Of Gold
The Wreckers
Headlong Flight
Wish Them Well
The Garden

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Here’s a look back at our previous thoughts on Rush. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011: LIVE IN CLEVELAND (2011): Rush used this opportunity to, as they really have been doing each tour lately, rifle through catalog and pull out some dusty old gems (“Time Stand Still,” reggae “Working Man,” “Marathon,” “Subdivisions,” “Stick It Out” and “Leave That Thing Alone”) and even one bonafide “never been played before” fan favorite (“Presto”) but, most importantly, a run-through of their entire classic Moving Pictures album for its 30th anniversary. Some of those tunes have been played a lot (“Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” I’m looking at you) but others have disappeared for far, far too long. Welcome back to the stage “The Camera Eye” and “Witch Hunt.” Maybe you’ll stick around for a couple tours?

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: RUSH: When most think of Rush, it’s their instrumental virtuosity (especially drummer Neil Peart) that comes to mind first. Or the love or hatred of Geddy Lee’s vocals. Other times it’s Peart’s second role as lyricist for the band that garners attention, and it’s another love or hate area of focus: Ayn Rand, sci-fi, songs about balding, fights between dogs and, well, whatever a Bytor is, these are all common targets for those who want to throw stones. We’re here to present an argument for the defense.

RUSH – ROLL THE BONES (1991; 2011 reissue): Listeners will hear immediately that the sound is indeed lighter and quieter, and the soundstage is thinner than either previous version. But it’s all to better show off the album’s immaculate recording, which does get a bit muffled in the Atlantic pressings. This is where you can revel in the tone of Geddy’s maturing voice, or the textures of Alex Lifeson’s guitar, or the layers of keyboard washes that are now magically so much more discernible from one another. With regard to those keyboard washes, what’s funny is that once you hear them here, you can’t help but notice them in the other versions, too. It just took this delicate audiophile edition to separate them out.

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at
Tom Johnson
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