Rush never makes abrupt alterations in its sound. The trio never abandoned its classical rock foundations even when it became unfashionable.
That does not imply that the members of Rush ought to be viewed as the fearless defenders of an artistic ideal. They are more calculating than that.
The band has maintained its popularity by not diverging from the formula enough to alienate its fans, just enough to keep them listening.
Grace Under Pressure keeps Rush's trademark sound, venturing out just enough to make it sound new. Bare-knuckle guitar work is carefully woven in to fit a more hard-boiled world out-look, replacing Rush's former abstract, philosophical leanings. Synthesizers enhance the album's technophobic themes. And a reggae rhythm successfully meshes with the progressive pop when the subject matter suits it.
However, Rush has not become jaded. The enthusiasm is still intact. The band shows a particular conviction for this music, and with good reason.
Grace Under Pressure has a sombre message, but one that is well thought out. It takes the form of paranoia snaking its way throughout. The music beckons many listens because Rush does not neatly identify the source of fear. It is left as a puzzle.
Some songs hint that the enemy is illusory: "The Enemy Within (Part One of 'Fear')." Building on that premise is "Red Lenses," which hints at the resurgence of McCarthyism.
But Rush also talks of electronic surveillance and other high-technology demons. The question is, how big are these monsters? Do we fear them when they are not even there, then remain oblivious to the ones that exist?
The answer, says Rush, is that we cannot discern which enemies are real and which are imagined. The terrorism of the age of technology is that no one knows.