Clockwork Angels: 24 Reviews

Ed at Rush s a Band put together a list of recent Clockwork Angels reviews. I went to each one and pulled out a thumbnail quote to give a flavor of what the reviewer thought of the album. Not a bad review in the bunch, although the reviewer for Time magazine said she wasn’t a Rush fan, thinks Rush’s music doesn’t speak to women, and basically said if you’re a Rush fan, you’ll probably like it. Well, that’s a helpful review! I wonder if Time might have done a better service to its readers if it had selected a reviewer who would have something to say about the music. But these are tough times in journalism, I understand. In any case, credit to Ed at Rush is a Band for his always fine work in keeping us on top of what’s happening. He also reported that the album seems set to chart on Billboard at number 2, behind a new release by Usher, and number 3 on iTunes. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  (Rated 3.5/4)

“Singer/bassist Geddy Lee (who no longer sings like he sucked helium), guitar hero Alex Lifeson and drum god Neil Peart are clicking as seamlessly as ever, creating a sonic roar that would frighten most bands half their age and twice their size. Classic-rock radio programmers should take note that tucked in there at track 8 is a friendly, jangly single in “The Wreckers.” While some of their ’70s/’80s dinosaur-rock peers sound silly and outdated trying to wield this epic rock, Rush still sounds hard, true and up for the adventure.”— Scott Mervis, Post-Gazette

The Irish Times

“Many guitarists have played a Gibson Les Paul, but few have made them sound as interesting as Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson. Singer Geddy Lee doesn’t quite reach the upper octaves anymore, but there is no indication that success or longevity have diminished their ambitions or their sound. Drummer and lyricist Neil Peart grapples, as ever, with the big themes. “I was brought up to believe the universe has a plan, it is not ours to understand,” goes the first line of BU2B (Brought up to Believe). I love you baby, it ain’t.”—Ronan McGreevey

Rush has “defied the odds by becoming, indisputably, one of the world’s biggest bands.Clockwork Angels therefore sounds as mighty as its concept, with the well-balanced interaction amongst Lee, Lifeson and Peart a clear result of the extensive touring they undertook concurrent with the recording process.”—Jason Schneider

Ultimate Classic Rock (Rated 8/10)

“Clockwork Angels’ sounds urgent, almost possessed, mostly eschewing long-winded jams and atmosphere in favor of a lean, muscular sound equally melodic and thunderous. Highlights overflow: On the note-perfect title track, Lifeson morphs from clean, chiming riffs to distorted thrust, with Peart pounding away nimbly under Lee’s soaring, gorgeous harmonies. ‘Halo Effect’ is arguably the band’s finest epic ballad since ‘Closer to the Heart,’ with great acoustic work from Lifeson and haunting orchestral interjections. ‘The Wreckers’ is chest-pounding, life-affirming rock majesty, with layers of lovely Lifeson overdubs and one of Lee’s catchiest and most heartfelt choruses.”—Ryan Reed

The Village Voice

“Tunefulness persists. “Headlong Flight” is all bubbly bass, muscular guitar, and busy drumming, but by the time they lock into a surging groove on the triumphant chorus, it brings to mind how every “By-Tor and the Snow Dog” had a “Fly by Night,” every “Xanadu” a “Closer to the Heart.” The title track is pure Joshua Tree ebullience shot through with King Crimson courtliness, right down to the trebly reverb and chugging cymbal drive. Rush really wants you to believe in this album, and by the time Alex Lifeson takes his solo, you just might.” —Matt Ealer

Time Magazine

“If you’re a lifelong Rush fan, you will probably love this album, but I’m not sure it will garner new fans. It sounds like Rush through and through, and while I admire their skill and longevity, I’m not really a fan of Rush, and this album didn’t win me over.”—Melissa Locker

Cleveland Channel 5 News

“Just when you think Canadian rock group Rush can do no more, the magnificent power trio always seems to come up with something fresh and new, taking our senses to another level of appreciation for the well-known rockers.”—Steve Cummings

The Imaginative Conservative

“What is especially fascinating is that Rush–in music and lyrics–has with “Clockwork Angels” created an all-embracing mythos, referencing their own works and music going back to the band’s very first album. There are hints, some overt and some not, from albums across the past four decades, and the protagonist must–as with Aeneas and a number of other classical heroes–experience, survive, and outwit the gods.”—Brad Birzer

Blinded by Sound

“This is pure Rush. This is the Rush that has always had fans foaming at the mouth, raving to friends. This is Rush at the peak of their game, four decades into their career. It seems impossible and yet . . . .”— Tom Johnson

Yahoo! Music Canada

“I can’t say I really ever got Rush, even in their earliest days. . . . The big story here? Clockwork Angels is the band’s first studio album in five years! And the verdict? It’s out! I plan on eventually hearing it!”—Dave DiMartino

The Calgary Herald (Rated 3.5/5)

“Devotees will see this epic concept album, the trio’s first studio release in five years, as something akin to discovering a new chapter hidden in their Bible. Everyone else will be waiting for the little people to come out and start their dance around Stonehenge. Yes, there’s a refreshing defiance to fashion about Clockwork Angels with its cheese-ball narrative . . . Guitarist Alex Lifeson, always a fierce but controlled player, seems to be the star this time around with an impressive sonic arsenal, showing a breathtaking creativity when it comes to producing mind-blowing riffs . . . .”—Eric Volmers

USA Today (Rated 3 stars)

“It’s an ambitious, sophisticated effort by a band that sounds surprisingly vital after 20 studio albums.”— Edna Gundersen


“I feel good about the album because there’s a sense the band is growing older gracefully—but not quietly.”—D.W. Dunphy

“I do have a pretty big beef with Clockwork Angels, but I don’t know who to target. There is a really good concept record here, but it’s buried under a crushing wall of homogenized production. Too many of these songs blend into one another — and I’m not just talking about the cross-faded outros and intros. On the great albums of Rush’s past, they managed to tie together songs that sounded quite different. But here, it sounds like one giant slab of prog rock — with only a few standout moments.”—Chris Holmes

“The album has the kind of mature depth that I was hoping for in a late-career album from Rush.  Many of the songs on Snakes & Arrows disappointed me — leaving me hoping that the boys would rekindle their dedication to their musical progressivism on their next album. With Clockwork Angels, they have by and large done just that.”—Ted Asregadoo

Buffalo News (Rated 4/5)

Clockwork Angels would be an impressive record even without its beautifully rendered libretto. The album’s production—handled by the band, returning collaborator Nick Raskulinecz and engineer Richard Chycki—ranks among the most astute of the trio’s career. There is a live feel throughout, particularly in the abundantly virtuosic drumming, some of Peart’s finest. Guitarist Lifeson is a master when it comes to constructing shimmering arrangements built of broad arpeggios, walloping power chords and harmonically inventive solos. Lee’s bass playing is beautifully busy, but equally groove-conscious. The interplay between the three musicians is simply breathtaking, perhaps more so than ever.”—Jeff Miers

Peffer Reviews (Rated A+)

Montreal Gazzette (Rated 4.5/5)

“Despite the binding theme and the band’s famous precision, Rush has never sounded so gloriously loose, perhaps taking a cue from the narrative’s lesson that uncompromising order and anarchy are both dead ends. There’s a neck-whipping flexibility in Seven Cities of Gold’s bobbleheaded bass intro, and a remarkable fluidity to guitarist Alex Lifeson’s quick switches between propulsion and lyricism in the towering title track.”—Jordan Zivitz (Rated 9.3/10)

“Because any Rush record is a living, breathing, complex work, it takes time to digest before the full relevance and import of the album can be ascertained. Still, it is not too early to put this among 2012′s list of rock top albums.”—Rustyn Rose (Rated 4/5)

“Alex Lifeson’s acoustic guitars have an established place here, but his electric axes roar over them throughout. Geddy Lee’s bass is mixed further up-front than it has been in some time —which makes his mind-blowing chops resound: there are amazing pizzicatos interspersed in driving hard rock fills and edgy, off-kilter funk riffs. His voice is more nuanced and more emotionally expressive. Peart’s drumming is the catalyst: his technical mastery makes his playing sound purely instinctive.”— Thom Jurek

Something Else!

“There’s always a pull to hear a specific this and another perfect that. I’ve just got to hear ‘The Anarchist’ again, again, maybe again— so good, so perfect, how Geddy leads with his stair-stepping bass until Alex comes in with that phasey guitar, and the song’s later shades of ’80s Rush with the keyboard washes. But it’s Alex’s solo that seals the deal, an Arabian-tinged cascade of notes that evokes all those great solos that somehow disappeared in the ’90s. Shivers up the spine, goosebumps all over my arms—every time. It’s the first time I’ve gotten shivers from new Rush music in a long time.”—Tom Johnson

“It’s the last third of the album  that turns out to be the most rewarding. As the protagonist in Peart’s story grows from innocence to experience, it’s reflected in the music. Aside from the bracing, ‘Bastille Day’—referencing ‘Headlong Flight’ the compositions start to become less throttling and more introspective. ‘The Garden’ hearkens back to the more pastoral touches of the A Farewell to Kings album and climaxes with a wrenchingly pretty coda, and ‘Wish Them Well’ benefits hugely from its more textured arrangement, Lifeson’s chiming, upbeat riffs complementing Lee’s layered vocals and Peart’s optimistic lyrics. Topping those songs, and turning out to be the best song on the entire album is the gorgeous ‘The Wreckers,’ which starts off with a blatant, Byrds-referencing opening riff that segues into the kind of iridescent, mature work the band wrote during their Presto period.”— Adrien Begrand

Toronto Sun (Rated 4/5)

“Meet the new world men. Same as the old world men—but better. A rejuvenated Rush find their way forward by looking back on their 19th disc, re-embracing long-form conceptual work—this full-length narrative follows a young traveller through a steampunk dystopia—while streamlining their sound and playing with reawakened passion and propulsion. Catch the spirit, catch the spit.”—Darryl Sterdan

Toronto Globe and Mail (Rated 3.5/5)

“It’s back to the future as Canada’s favourite prog rockers return to the long-form structures and interlinked lyrics that marked the likes of ‘2112.’ (Hey, it’s the pre-centenary, right?) While the playing is as fiery and flamboyant as ever, the solos are sharply song-focused, lending the music a strong sense of melodic direction, from the multi-textured title tune to the steely funk of ‘Seven Cities of Gold.'”— J.D. Considine

Audio Times

“The final song on the album is the masterpiece of the entire thing. ‘The Garden’ is a 24 carat epic.  The gentle, acoustic opening—which reminded me of ‘The Sphere,’ the final part of ‘Hemispheres’—is only the beginning of a song that builds into a string-driven thing of sumptuous beauty.  A piano echoes a loneliness and maybe hints at a sad end to the journey but, in any case, this is a moving and majestic way to end what is bound to become a Rush classic.”— Rob Palladino

Martin Popoff

“A hot mess of heavy metal drone, enticingly sliced up and shifted over and over again, a very strange landscape of obscure prog metal of a most curmudgeonly and English type, piled on with more worthy intellectual ideas from Neil as he grows and grows into a finer fiction writer all the time. Curious to see how Clockwork Angels is received out there, ‘cos I can see there being a lot of exasperation. No matter what the response, one can’t deny that there’s more purpose and focus here than on any Rush album ever, save perhaps for the sad anguished and sad Vapor Trails.”

Meaning of the runes.

Read album liner notes.

Read background and lyrics for each track.

 More This and That


~ by rvkeeper on June 15, 2012.

2 Responses to “Clockwork Angels: 24 Reviews”

  1. Fantastic. Thanks for putting this together.

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