In the past decade, Rush has gone from playing its patent prog to a stripped-down hard rock with nary a synth. And even though the lyrics of maestro-drummer Neil Peart still veer into Dungeons & Dragons territory (see "Armor and Sword"), Canada's most popular band seems more interested in simply jamming than trying to recapture fading glory. In 2004, the band even released an album of covers titled Feedback, which features rockers like "Seven and Seven Is," "The Seeker," and a radical version of "Mr. Soul."
By returning to its roots, Rush is experiencing a surge in creativity -- just check out the group's latest disc, this year's Snakes & Arrows. "Far Cry" boasts the best Rush chorus since 1984's "Distant Early Warning." "The Larger Bowl" is good for God knows how many weed jokes. And "Armor and Sword" has an acoustic intro reminiscent of "The Trees."
Even though Geddy Lee avoids the super-high notes, his voice sounds as otherworldly as ever, while Neil Peart's apparent interest in angels makes for an intriguing lyrical subtext to several songs.
"Tom Sawyer" is not walking through the door, and Rush can't produce another Permanent Waves. But the trio doesn't have to. Snakes & Arrows is a more than honorable entry to the group's hallowed catalog. Hell, Rush rocks harder than 99.9 percent of bands from the '70s that are still kicking around.