Vapor Trails (Album Review)

By Dana Buoniconti, CMJ New Music Monthly, June 2002, transcribed by pwrwindows

One gets the sense that in the Year 2112, if Rush were still alive, they'd be going strong. Think of the three Canadians what you will (greatest power trio of all time? prog-schlockers past their prime'?): Their tenacity, cache of classic-rock staples, instrumental mastery and influence on numerous bands, alternative and nu-metal alike, is undeniable. Vapor Trails, Rush's first studio album since 1997's disappointing Test For Echo, and first since the death of drummer Neil Peart's wife and daughter, isn't so much a return to form (if that form is "Tom Sawyer" or "Xanadu") as it is a return to the muscular, more accessible style the band started exploring on 1993's Counterparts. In fact, much of Vapor Trails chugs along with a heaviness that's closer to Soundgarden than the can-you-see-me-counting complexity of Dream Theater. But where Rush really shines is towards the end of Vapor Trails, on the pair of songs "Nocturne" and "Freeze." Both songs find the members stretching out in unexpected ways: Singer/bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson getting downright discordant, and Peart playing pretty damn near in-the-pocket. Both songs are also flat-out kickass. Vapor Trails is the sound of three friends who, after nearly 30 years and 17 albums, still love and are energized by playing music together.