Classic Album Reviews

Rush - Clockwork Angels

Classic album reviewed for by Gordon Hamilton

Clockwork Angels is the twentieth (nieteenth if you exclude the Feedback mini-album) studio album by Canadian progressive rock trio Rush. Released in 2012, it was the first album from the band since 2007's Snakes & Arrows.

This is a difficult album for me to review as an avid Rush fan and also an audiophile. Why? Well on one level (i.e. musically and conceptually) is it one of the best albums of their long career, but on another level (i.e. sound quality/engineering & prodution) it is a big let down. As with Snakes & Arrows it is produced by Nick Raskulinecz, engineered & mixed by Richard Chycki and mastered by Brian Gardner. While Snakes & Arrows may not be a first choice demonstration disc at hi-fi shows, it has decent sound overall so that went wrong with this one I don't know! Whether you are listening to (and I have it on all formats except 24/96 hi-res) vinyl, CD or "high quality" FLAC download, Clockwork Angels sounds dynamically compressed, flat and dull and fails to do justice to the trio's brilliant playing. If you are listening in car or on a low-fi home audio system or iPod then you may not be aware of it's shortcomings, but you certainly will if you have a high quality system.

Track listing:-

  1. Caravan (5:39)
  2. BU2B (5:10)
  3. Clockwork Angels (7:31)
  4. The Anarchist (6:52)
  5. "Carnies (4:53)
  6. Halo Effect (3:14)
  7. Seven Cities of Gold (6:32)
  8. The Wreckers (5:01)
  9. Headlong Flight (7:19)
  10. BU2B2 (1:28)
  11. Wish Them Well (5:25)
  12. The Garden (6:59)

Tracks 1 and 2 were first released as a download single 2 years before the album release and are a a great start to the album. The sound quality of these two tracks is slightly better than the rest of the album. Why this is I don't know but it may have something to do with the fact that Caravan and BU2B were cut at Blackbird Studios in Nashville unlike the rest of the album which was recorded at the Revolution Recording studio in Toronto.

The album was arranged & Produced by Rush & Nick Raskulinecz. Recording Engineers: Richard Chycki, Martin Cooke, Jason DuFour, Paul Fig & Stephen Koszler. It was Mixed by Nick Raskulinecz and mastered by Brian Gardner.

There was a novel written based on this concept album. From Wikipedia:-

On February 9, 2012, science fiction novelist Kevin J. Anderson, a long time friend of Neil Peart, a nnounced that he would be writing a novelization of Clockwork Angels. He also revealed information about the album's concept: In a young man's quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life. The novel was released on September 4, 2012.

Despite my disappointment at the sound quality of this album, it is nevertheless a very good Rush album and is therefore recommended!

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