Vapor Trails

The blaze of metal-edged guitar licks Alex Lifeson unleashes during this disc's intro were surely fueled by pent-up anticipation for Rush to start jamming again.

The blaze of metal-edged guitar licks Alex Lifeson unleashes during this disc's intro were surely fueled by pent-up anticipation for Rush to start jamming again. In fact, that same blast of energy welding this CD of new material together resonates long after the last crash of drummer Neil Peart's cymbals. After a six-year hiatus, Rush seems more concerned with preserving its musical empathy than exploring a vastly new direction: Vapor Trails echoes the passion of 1993's Counterparts, albeit with a more back-to-basics sensibility (there are no keyboards and overdubs are kept to a minimum). Peart's lyrics are both confessional and celebrational, and few can match his still-precise drumming technique. Lifeson's playing is freer and bolder; Geddy Lee handles his bass/vocal chores with equal aplomb. The more time one spends with Vapor Trails, the richer and more nuanced it becomes. Consider this an absolute triumph.—CLT