Clockwork Angels by RushThe all-stars of the Canadian rock scene heave out their latest masterpiece, a steam-punk concept album written by drummer Neil Peart. Naturally, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee join him for Guitar/backing vocals, and bass/keyboards/lead vocals respectively. Dang guys. Ease up on Geddy.
As well as being the inspiration for bands such as Metallica, Dream Theater, and Symphony X, Rush continues to push the musical envelope with their playing. Peart continues to display exemplary drumming, such as in Clockwork Angels song "7 Cities of Gold," which features crisp, pristine hide-bonking. I say they push the envelope, not because they are doing something different, but because they are doing the same thing: music that features three virtuosos that are well-trained in their art. They don't want to bow to the pressures of new music. They want to do what they love, which is near-perfect, sonorous progressive rock.
And they get very close to perfection indeed! Consider the grandeur of "Caravan," the vocal genius of "Wreckers," the raucous serenity of "The Garden," or the musical zenith that is "Headlong Flight," in which Lee's rising and falling tones combine with Lifeson's accomplished guitar playing and the always-superior Peart-tone drums.
Overall, Clockwork Angels is an incredible album that highlights the best of Rush's abilities. Five out of Five.
First Candle splashed the canvas hard with their first album A Lonnely Birthday, and, with the addition of Marion Ghellickson, add an accomplished female front to their already strong lineup. Guitarist Ken Ramsey penned all but one of the songs on their latest misspelling, the exception being "Only Time I've Ever Known," written by keyboard-doer Amanda Cotard. Their drummer is Michael Ixaust, and their bassist (and known sitar-ist) is Jamie Smith.
The Nvrland by First Candle
The Nvrland excels over their last album Without Fael with not only the addition of Ghellickson, but with a surprising amount of tact applied by Cotard. Fael suffered from an over-abundance of synth and a lack of real piano accompaniment, instead having Cotard, in a way, play on her own and hope it does something for the album. Songs such as "Whoopity" or "Crass Block" do not benefit from this, and sound slightly deranged as a result.
However, The Nvrland allows Cotard to be both an accompanying instrument, to underscore Ramsey or Smith, or become her own instrument, giving her a few solos and background tracks. Songs like "Lost You, Found Me" and "Jumpfall" are exquisite, and title track "The Nvrland" is a fifteen minute masterpiece based on the story of Peter Pan. The album is weak only on their last track, "Comma Man," which features Smith's bass as the head instrument, and as such has a hard time allowing the other instruments to successfully add to the tone.
Overall, The Nvrland is a fine example of First Candle's adherence to an elemental sound, summoning thoughts of whispy woods, bubbling pools of magma, and a rushing stream. It's too bad it's a fake album by a fake band. @ out of Five.
Don't worry, Rush is real.