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Rush - Hold Your Fire

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Album Review
All reviews are (c) Patuto Enterprises and originally appeared at Epinions.Com

Rush fires out another great album...

Pros: More thought provoking lyrics behind increasing musical talent.

Cons: Softer than other Rush albums, but that's not really a con.

The Bottom Line: No, it's not a kinder, gentler Rush. It's a Rush that's more in tuned with their own musical direction and desires. A great work of art!

A new sound. Their sound.

That's how Rush was describing Hold Your Fire when it was released back in 1987. For the past 15 years since Rush, the Canadian Power Trio began releasing studio albums, they had allowed the musical stylings and direction to evolve with the times, yet remain within their own musical philosophy.

Hold Your Fire was being touted as the apex of their evolution - something the band had been aspiring to for many, many years.

Rush was that excited about this album. Unfortunately, certain aspects of the album, including guest vocal appearances by Aimee Mann of Til Tuesday fame and a lighter more relaxed musical style didn't initially sit well with many Rush fans at that time.

But something I learned a while back was that it sometimes a few listens to begin to appreciate the intricacies and power behind a new Rush album.

Such was the case with Hold Your Fire. At first, it had only a couple of powerful songs, but after a few listens, the nuances of the remaining tracks hit home - and once again I realized, as did many other Rush fans, that they had a gem of an album on their hands.

1. Force Ten
The album starts off with Force Ten - a strong rocking example of heavy bass, powerful percussions and quick guitar work. Rumor has it that this was the last track written for the album. And since it made up the 10th track, it was called, appropriately, Force Ten. Gotta love Rush's naming technique :)

2. Time Stand Still
Arguably the albums finest track, is up next. Once again, Neil Peart puts together some beautiful and thought provoking lyrics about the passage of time and how we are powerless to stop it. Great lines like:

"Freeze this moment a little bit longer,
Make each sensation a little bit stronger.
Experience slips away...
Time Stand Still. "

This song also marks a first for Rush. (Significant) vocals from an outside source. The phrase Time Stand Still in the song is sung by female recording artist Aimee Mann. According to Rush and Geddy Lee, they wanted someone with a very high voice to capture those words. Geddy felt he couldn't accomplish this - many, if not all Rush fans disagree. But while strange at first, Aimee Mann's vocals on this track have become a true part of Rush lore. They add substance to the song and adds to the new sound and direction that Rush was looking for.

3. Open Secrets
An interesting tune with a paradoxal title. After all, if secrets were open, they wouldn't be secrets at all. The lyrics touch upon the secrets held between two people/lovers. A good song, with good lyrics and strong guitar work from Alex Lifeson. Not the albums strongest song, but certainly an enjoyable one.

4. Second Nature
The album's fourth track is a nice follow-up song to Open Secrets. Rush has always had a good sense for the placement of songs on an album. It adds to the flow from beginning to end. And when you're a band like Rush, which can have ballads mixed in with harder, edgier music, placement can be key. But I digress :) Second Nature is a very catchy tune which discusses the responsibility we all have in the daily choices we make in life. I love the line:

"Folks have got to make choices
And choices got to have voices
Folks are basically decent
Conventional wisdom would say
Well, we read about the exceptions
In the papers every day "

Classic Neil Peart.

5. Prime Mover
A song that takes on a jazzier musical direction behind some more great guitar work from Alex Lifeson. The simple message here is a common one - just seen and displayed through the talents of Neil Peart.

"From the point of conception
To the moment of Truth
At the point of surrender
To the burden of proof

From the point of ignition
To the final drive
The point of the journey is not to arrive
(Anything can happen) "

Great time changes abound in this song. Only Rush could pull one off like this.

6. Lock and Key
Next comes one of the more powerful and darker songs on the album. Lock and Key is classic political Rush. Discussing the killer instincts in all of us and how most of us try to keep those tendencies under lock and key, the final segment of the song says it all:

"It's not a matter of conscience
A search for probable cause
It's just a matter of instinct, a matter of fatal flaws

No reward for resistance
No assistance, no applause

We don't want to be victims
On that we all agree, so we lock up the killer instinct
And throw away the key "

7. Mission
This song, which the album title is derived from in the opening lyrics, is another change of pace for Rush, but one that fits perfectly within the album. Geddy Lee's vocals really drive this song which touches upon the desires and obsessive-like feelings people have when going after their dreams.

"But dreams don't need to have motion
To keep their spark alive
Obsession has to have action
Pride turns on the drive "

8. Turn the Page
A faster track with speed changes galore and ripping guitar work once again from Alex Lifeson coupled with some powerful vocals and interesting keyboard work from Geddy Lee. A great opening lyric sets the stage for the basis of this song:

"Nothing can survive in a vacuum
No one can exists all alone
We pretend things only happen to strangers
We've all got problems of our own "

9. Tai Shan
This track is the slowest and likely the most moving song on the entire album. A spiritual song of sorts, Tai Shan opens up with beautiful woodwinds that merge into mesmerizing guitar work. Detailing the 40 centuries of Chinese history, Neil Peart takes us on a whirlwind tour upon the sacred mountain of Tai Shan.

10. High Water
Hold Your Fire ends with its tenth track called High Water. Somewhat of a reflection of their earlier song from Permanent Waves called Natural Science, this song speaks about the connection we all have with the ocean and its life-bringing waters.

"When something left the ocean
To crawl high above the foam
We still feel that elation
When the water takes us home "

And there you have it. 10 more solid songs from a band that has now completed the third phase of their career. Putting out 12 studio albums to this date, it was time to continue the pattern of releasing their next live album - A Show Of Hands

But that, my friends, is another Epinion...

Thanks as always for reading...

Rush On...

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