Friday, May 11, 2007

Rush - "Snakes and Arrows"

This is just a quick review of the latest Rush album 'Snakes and Arrows'. I have been a Rush fan for nearly 20 year but I am not averse to criticising their work. The last Album 'Vapour Trails' was completely awful and I cannot listen to it without wincing, previous to that 'Test for Echo' isn't much better. So it was with some nervousness I ordered this release hoping they could recapture what they once had.

I have been pleasantly surprised which I am very happy about. Not only is this album easy to listen to but there are actually some strong melodic tunes in there which Vapour Trails seriously lacked. I think Alex Lifeson had too much say in the last album and has been reigned in here somewhat. There are elements of early 90's Rush and then even earlier stuff, not so much in sound but lyrical content and style.

Now I don't agree with a lot of Neil Peart lyrics on several songs. Though those particular ones were inspired while driving around the US and seeing the influence of fundamental Christianity. So I probably can't blame him and I am a fundamental Christian. It is annoying that the two songs I really disagree with are some of the best on the album. Oh well!

Anyway, for any Rush fan or for people looking for something fresh and interesting to listen to then I recommend this album. The boys are back and have found their musical roots again, hooray! Now to wait to see them in October!


Anonymous said...

You are no Rush fan.
T4E was a great album and VT was good.
How can you say they were sub-par?
Only a true Rushian would understand their diversity.
S&A is a great album.

Stop the shred and get a clue.


Andrew said...

Hey PC, thanks for the comment.

I believe the sign of a true fan is objectivity. The sign of an obsessive fan is lack of it. If you like those two albums then great but I expressed my opinion and still feel the same.

Believe me I understand diversity especially when it comes to Rush. I have been a Rush fan since 1987 and have all their albums. Have seen them three times and will see them again this October.

Some albums I like more than others or depending on my mood. However no band is above criticism, not even Rush. I simply cannot listen to Vapour Trails. This is partly due to the over production and sound levels but the songs lack melody and there is not really an outstanding track on the album. Test for Echo is a bit better but suffers the same production issues. While this is not the bands fault it spoils the listening quality.

Anyway, thanks for the comments and for visting my Blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,
I was a big Rush fan for a few years in the 80's and saw them on their Signals tour. Then my tastes shifted and I barely considered listening to them for 27 years. In between I became a Christian.

My interest in Rush was rekindled while reminiscing with some folks and I began to consider the band from an older and Christian point of view.

As much as I could recall, they seemed to be quite a clean band with some positive messages about freedom and self-reliance. I found there were other Christians who enjoyed Rush and before I knew it I was attending their "Snakes and Arrows" concert, buying the CD and rediscovering their old music.

However, what completely escaped me in the 80's is now painfully obvious, particularly in their new music: Neil Peart is an atheist humanist. Songs like "Free Will" and "Witch Hunt", however literate, are clear shots at religion, and as you have remarked (and by Neil's own admission) the anti-religious songs on S&A are particularly targeted at Christianity.

Now this sets up a conflict that is all too common with Christians today. The vast majority of music, books and films these days have a decidedly non-Christian and often anti-Christian bias. How much of this can we enjoy while overlooking those elements that disagree with our beliefs? This I believe is a matter of conscience for each Christian. But it is difficult to reject things that we find enjoyable, like Rush's music.

I wonder about your opinion on this conflict and how you resolve it, particularly in view of the idea of sanctification.

Andrew said...

j-rho, ah yes the age old question of what music should we listen to when it isn't 'christian' music. I think, as you say it is a matter of conscience and it is between you and God. If you feel uncomfortable listening to certain music then maybe it is best not to.

As for Rush, I got into them shortly before becoming a Christian. So fairly soon was aware of Neil Pearts views on the world. Certainly S&A is fairly direct in its anti Christian and I guess anti-religious stance.

I can certainly understand his views even if I strongly disagree with them. I don't stop listening to friends or TV shows that don't reflect my worldview. I think the balance is being able to listen and not subconsciously take on board what the message is. I don't listen to them all the time obsessively, which is dangerous no matter who it is.

When I hear views like that I pray for the person that God may reveal the truth. Neil has already observed several truths in his writing on this album. On 'Bravest Face' the line about 'In the sweetest child there's a vicious streak', original sin, and the song as a whole reflects the longing for Eden in all of us. I pray one day he truly understands the Gospel message.

Sanctification is about being made more like Jesus through my life. Part of that is discernment in deciding what is right to listen too. If it affects you spiritually then avoid, if not then walk in freedom.

Take Care!

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew,
Thanks for the reply. Your comments about not absorbing the message and the truths in Neil's lyrics really resonated with me.

A lady at my church asked me what I thought about Rush and S&A because her 16-year old son had recently bought the disc. One of the comments I made to her was that although the lyrics are decidedly non-Christian, there are elements of spirituality and seeking. I was blown away by the lines "you can call me faithless, but I still cling to hope and I believe in love". When I heard that I immediately thought, "But my dear Mr. Peart, God IS love!"

On the point of whether the disc is acceptable for a young person I think it all comes down to maturity. The ability to appreciate a viewpoint and even empathize with the speaker, without necessarily absorbing that viewpoint is a matter of experience and maturity. At any rate, looking at the landscape of popular music I think her son could do a lot worse.


P.S. The S&A concert was fantastic. Their musical skills remain top-notch and Geddy's voice was surprisingly good. I will look for your review of the concert in October.