For any of those who in their spare time studied prophecies, politics or other intellectual pursuits against the depictions of human suffering in George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (both fictional novels), science fiction films or video games such as Chrono Trigger for the SNES, this is a very relevant and eternally interesting album for those who fear the very worst of humanity’s future. Given that the 21st century is proving to be quite a dark time for humanity, this makes this album worth visiting. Rush were based in Progressive Rock music, but needed a breakthrough commercially and artistically to propel themselves to stardom. All these things culminated in the release of this album, although their later efforts were more popular. It demands to be covered here from start to finish for all of these reasons, so let’s jump in and do so. It is divided into a single song on the first half, and a collection of other songs on the second half.
We begin the album with 2112: I. Overture; II. The Temples Of Syrinx; III. Discovery; IV. Presentation; V. Oracle: The Dream; VI. Soliloquy; VII: Grand Finale. It begins with some eerie science fiction sounds on keyboard which sound very futuristic. This is cleverly done here, and shows Pink Floyd that they had serious competition in this regard. Before long, punchy electric guitars enter along with drums. These have some dramatic delay placed onto them, and this piece gets going along nicely. Brilliant sounding from the start, this piece adds acoustic guitars in the background and some soulful vocals in the background. Some tom-tom drums then follow. Instantly, you can hear how excellent and amazing this piece is. Very much influenced by The Who, this sounds incredibly good. Guitar riffs then enter, and this piece has some really awesome guitar solos within it. Descriptive, even without vocals, Rush impress very well here. Layers of exciting guitars enter, and this piece sounds absolutely monumental. The second section begins with explosions, before the opening line stating, “The meek shall inherit the earth” and we hear some awesome vocals by Geddy Lee. It’s a great performance and the piece explains the story nicely. Sadly, the priests of the temples of syrinx are in control of the world in this concept. No doubt Rush were inspired by Yes for this style of singing and craftsmanship here, even in a future that this album seemingly predicts. The next section begins with a lone acoustic guitar, water sounds and some loose guitar parts. It sounds like a strange mixture of notes and sounds, but it explains the story excellent in a musical sense. A gorgeous use of harmonics is here, amongst the sound of rushing water. This piece continues along very nicely, before Geddy Lee sings away about discovering an electric guitar. The playing gets faster and more upbeat throughout this section, and this piece sounds wonderful and dramatic. This evolves magically and musically. For anyone who has played a musical instrument during their lifetime, this is the feeling you have when you first play. The next section enters, with a more typical sounding Hard Rock piece here, as one steps into presentation of what the guitar can do. A wonderful piece emerges here, with a great Robert Plant sounding sort of vocal. Progressive Rock sounds lively and fresh on this record, as the best of it always does. A really great progression of music is here, before a frenzied wah-wah guitar solo enters. This sounds totally amazing and brilliant, with Alex Lifeson playing away in an amazing format. It seems that many Rock contemporaries at the time had competition. Soon enough, there are some flanger and wah-wah guitar sounds here. The next piece here indicates a strong dream that the main character has, indicating the scenario of outer space and dreams combined. This performance is amazing and very wonderfully direct, showcasing some history of the universe and the difficult scenario at hand for the main character. We then return to the sound of rushing water and liquid guitar parts, as the main character comes to terms with reality as he awakens from the dream. This piece then goes into a decent Hard Rock section that sounds nothing short of amazing. A brilliant and powerful sounding Rock piece, this is incredibly great. Some very AC/DC styled riffs then enter, as we reach towards the end of this piece. Very uptempo and glorious sounding, it reaches a dark and heavy sounding piece. Some brilliant guitar overdubs are here, adding to the mayhem. It then bursts into a frenzy of musical instrumentation, with a voiceover stating repeatedly of the situation in the plot, simply repeating at the end: “We have assumed control.” You be the judge on the ending of this piece of music.
Next here is A Passage To Bangkok which has some really dark and cool riffs, and some really great singing. Some awesome pinch harmonics in the guitar playing are here. This is very much a party tune for those who enjoy partying in Thailand, of which many tourists have visited over time. A really cool tune, this sounds like a party song. The guitar playing and performances here are amazing sounding, and this is a great and short song about enjoying one’s time there. Rush really do this sort of music fantastically. This song is a good ode to smoking weed, provided that you don’t get chucked into prison in Thailand for doing so. Nice tune.
The Twilight Zone is next, which is a really Poppy sort of piece, influenced by TV shows and themes of the time, primarily from the mind of drummer Neil Peart. A really imaginative and somewhat Psychedelic piece, only sounding different with the loud guitars to hear on this one. Really cool sounding, it has some excellent multitracked vocals that are quite hypnotic. A really great sounding piece, this is really relaxing listening. It ends with a nice melodic guitar solo and hi-hats. Excellent.
Lessons begins with joyful and nicely strummed acoustic guitars, with bass guitars and drums gradually seeping in. This is a really excellent tune, and Rush sound as though they are on top of things. It launches into a loud and punchy piece about people who don’t take life lessons from others. A very heavy set of electric guitar riffs emerge in the chorus, before launching into a Led Zeppelin III set of verses. The riffs here are loud, powerful and impressive, showcasing a brilliant set of melodic guitar playing. Rush were really starting to be on fire here, this is a really excellent tune. The fade out sounds interstellar here.
Next along is Tears which, from the start, sounds like a melancholy acoustic ballad. It has some sad sort of singing, but nothing Coldplay-ish in its melancholy, it is a good quality and low down tune. Mellotron sounding strings enter, and this sounds like a really amazing 1970s radio staple. It sounds really excellent all the same, and is a very moving sort of piece from Rush. An awesome song, a nice ballad for when the mood strikes. Very gentle and moving, it ends with the Mellotron sounds which are nice.
Last song on this album is Something For Nothing which has a much more optimistic feel and sound to it. It is a more standard sounding song, with 12 strings acoustic guitars and has Geddy Lee singing about the weather and passing time, waiting for someone to change things around. A really cool and catchy tune, this is a good way to finish this great album. Lively and powerful guitar solos come through this song, and the whole thing sounds really great. It points to life as a self-purpose for all, which it basically is. A really lively and rocking tune with some amazing screaming from Geddy Lee. This is how good the music is here, just excellent.
This dual sided sword of an album was a breakthrough success for Rush as a band. It also is a very enjoyable listen, from the scary concept on side one, to the batch of decent songs on side two. As the Taliban have banned western music in Afghanistan, along with many religious groups, Rush are a force of musical reality on these matters. A top album, and something that any Classic Rock fan will love. Fans of Rush will be delighter to know that bonus track editions of this album are remastered for your pleasure.
Rock the Casbah.
If you liked the article and would like to support the author in his musical review quest, please donate to show your support. Thank you for your consideration. Chris Airey