If you can play air drums to Rush's genre-melding classic "Spirit of the Radio," then you are old enough to read this review. But even if Creed and Papa Roach spell rock royalty to you, Rush's unique way with rock rhythms and grand sense of theater places them well above most MTV fodder.
After the devastating demise of drummer Neil Peart's family and Rush's eventual five year hiatus from show biz, the power progressive rock trio return with Vapor Trails, an album which is more melodically streamlined and butt kicking than a band of graying geezers has to a right to release. While still trumpeting Peart's harebrained lyrics ("If culture is the curse of the thinking class") and Geddy Lee's cat-ripped-my-tongue vocals, Vapor Trails also reflects Rush's chameleon-like talent to float with the changes, decade by decade. Where in the 80's Rush took on a certain Police-like guitar and song hook allure, Vapor Trails slyly alludes to the bombastic crunch of bands like Linkin Park and Creed, some songs trading in Peart's million-note drum fills and Alex Lifeson's layered guitar twaddle for heavy muscle spasms that helps focus Rush's Tarot-induced (just check the pics) treatises on dreams ("Nocturne"), terrorist attacks ("Peaceable Kingdom") and Rush's recently troubled past ("Ghost Rider"). To this pared-down palette (no synths!) Rush also bring a catchy melodicism, making "Ceiling Unlimited," "Vapor Trail," and "How It Is" lighters-aloft anthems for arena rockers everywhere.
Unfortunately, at times, VT also sounds like a Linkin Park record, with most of the sonic action condensed to a small field placed in the middle of the speakers. It's not mono, but it's pretty close. And the sound is muddy, unclear and flat.
While the grooves slam with more gusto and the songs rock harder, no one will ever mistake Rush for Papa Roach. But with most any 80's rockers you care to name typically up their own sagging arse, it is heartwarming to hear Rush taking names and kicking it after all these years.
Sound Quality: 50