Rush - 'Hold Your Fire' (KKKKK) (five stars/k's)
Yes, the fabulous five for this album.
Because once again, Rush have provided an album of class, quality and consistency.
I've heard some sort of bulls**t that this album sounds like Simple Minds. Yeah I suppose it's got a modern sound, but that hardly qualifies it for Kerr Mk 2 does it? Of course it bloody doesn't! The only 'influence' I can detect a smidgeon of is The Police, other than that we're talking about a natural progression from 'Power Windows' into a land of majesty and modern strength.
If you want strength, just cop an earful of opener 'Force Ten', its ecclesiastical intro giving way into that good old Geddy bass before the song engulfs the listener in a series of superb dynamics, melodies and atmospheres. Rush prove that power and brute sonic force doesn't need speed or volume, Rush create both by simply making their overall sound B-I-G.
The one thing to notice is that Alex Lifeson's guitar seems these days to share level pegging with the keyboards/synthesisers that are increasingly becoming the Rush sound.
'Tiime Stand Still' is testimony to the fact that Rush could never lose their roots or their originality however modern they decide to be. Harking back to the days of 'Hemispheres' with large dashes of 'Power Windows' influence, the meandering mystical path the number takes is marvellous to experience.
This is another major Rush strength that 'Hold Your Fire' illustrates, Rush's ability to advance and experiment without becoming pompous or indulgent. Of course this all depends on one's personal definition of indulgence, ie if something performed at less than drillhammer pace sounds boring to you then the point is lost, but I think even the most cynical would see their opinions blasted away by such numbers as 'Lock And Key'.
They have even written a natural single in 'Mission', all keyboard harmonies and gentle guitar waves melting in with that essential Rush sound...Lee's Rickenbacker gems, Lifeson's neat licks and Peart's superb drumming.
Knowing how rare it is to find an album with ten grade 'A' songs on it, I implore all lovers of good music to make an immediate purchase. You don't wait around when quality is on the shelves. And 'Hold Your Fire' really is one of the finest albums of the year.