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2112 (CD review #3)LizardKing99 In 1976, we got some great albums from some of the biggest bands of the 70s; Presence (Led Zeppelin), A Day at the Races (Queen), Hotel California (Eagles), Agents of Fortune (Blue Oyster Cult), and this week’s album, 2112 - a gripping concept album from Rush that became one of their most well-known.
For this review, I’m not covering the entire 2112 song as a whole. I’m doing each sub-song within it, each one with a review of its own.
I. Overture – Here’s a great instrumental to start us off. It sounds super spacey at first. It makes you feel like we’re about to travel through space and time… and we do, in a way. When you listen to this album, you go through many different events our subject (person) encounters over time. Then the guitar picks up and it sounds like you should be riding on a race horse. I feel like, at that point, the song begins to foreshadow everything you’re about to hear in the album. You can hear parts in Overture that are similar to parts in other sub-songs in 2112. There’s a transitional guitar solo that leads to my absolute favorite part of the song (around 3:35). All the instruments together sound so incredible there, and it always makes me dance. Then the music literally goes out with a bang, and Geddy delivers a chilling quote describing what may or may not happen towards the end of 2112…,”And the meek shall inherit the Earth.”
II. The Temples of Syrinx – For the longest time, this was my favorite sub-song. This track is definitely one of the heaviest on the album; it’s a real headbanger for me. It begins telling the story that goes on throughout the whole song (2112). These priests basically control everything from within their temple. They have everything their subjects need, and they don’t want them to get it elsewhere; basically, it’s the priests’ way or the highway. While this song is a fun song, it foreshadows what the priests are going to act like later on… when they show their true colors.
III. Discovery – Now, we’re back to our subject’s point of view. The song begins with the tranquil sounds of a waterfall. You can also hear the strings of a guitar, like someone is tuning up or trying to learn how to play a tune. I especially like this song because it illustrates the beauty of someone discovering music and picking up a new instrument for the first time. Our subject is baffled by the sounds his mystery instrument creates; in this case, the guitar. He quickly falls in love with its beauty, and the tempo picks up. At that point, you can hear the excitement and joy in his heart for this new wonder he’s discovered. He gets pumped and ready to share it with the world.
IV. Presentation – Almost seamlessly transitioning from the last sub-song, we find ourselves following our subject again. He wants to share his music with everybody, and ends up before the priests, playing for them. When he starts out, he gleefully plays them a tune, showing them how amazing it is. Then, it gets super heavy again, and they reject him countless times, telling him that it’s silly and annoying, and the ways are too old. My favorite thing about this song is that whenever our subject is demonstrating, the music is happy and proud, but when the priests argue back, it gets loud and angry. Ultimately, he ends up being harshly rejected, and the song ends by speeding up and sounding similar to what we hear in Overture. What a frustrating song this is.
V. Oracle: The Dream – After a long day of failed attempts to bring music into his world, our subject goes home and takes a power nap. The song begins out very echoic and depressing, and he begins to slip into a deep slumber. It becomes apparent that he starts to dream when his voice echoes over and over, and the song gets loud and happy again. He begins to describe what happens in his dream; this oracle dude takes our friend on a journey through time, showing him what the world was like when the ‘Elders’ were in control. The oracle enlightens him on what’s about to go down – the elders are going to come back and take what was once theirs.
VI. Soliloquy – This is currently my favorite sub-song. We start our hearing the waterfall again, and the music is sad; accurately representing how the subject feels. He wakes up from his dream and becomes upset when he realizes none of it came true. The music transitions from slow and somber to loud and heavy again; he cries out, craving for things to change, wanting to live in the world he saw in his dreams. The guitar solo brings forth all of his anger and frustration instrumentally, and you begin to feel angry and disappointed like the subject.
VII. Grand Finale – This is the final sub-song in 2112. It sounds super happy and energetic, so you start thinking that maybe someone has succeeded in the end. The song begins to musically summarize everything we just heard and everything we ventured through with our subject. You’re feeling hopeful about it… And then you hear the elders say, “Attention all planets of the solar federation,” three times (the sentence is seven words. 7x3 = 21), and they tell us, “We have assumed control,” three times (the sentence is four words. 4x3 = 12), representing 2112 lyrically. That announcement also verifies for us that the elders have won, and they took back their temple, and that our subject now lives in his dream world. A happy ending for everyone (except the meaniehead priests).
2. A Passage to Bangkok – We’ve made it to the rest of the album; the songs that aren’t actually related to the concept of 2112, but are still amazing. This was my favorite non-2112-sub-song for a while. It starts out with a killer riff and the stereotypical Chinese chime-thing. At first, you don’t really know what this song is about. It seems like a happy song about traveling through Asia… but that doesn’t seem right. Then you hear suggestive things like, “We’ve been smoking Lebanon,” or, “smoke rings fill the air,” and you become sure that this song has to be about drugs. This is verified for you when you hear a bong hit before the guitar solo. The chorus repeats with the cheery chimes. Overall, this is a happy song about finding pleasures in life… elsewhere.
3. Twilight Zone – This is currently my favorite song on the album other than 2112. The intro sounds super powerful, but I also get a disco vibe from it for some reason. I think it’s cool that it basically transitions from a song about drugs to a song about dreams. The song slows down and gets deep and dark for the chorus. The second time the chorus comes around, there are whispers added to the vocals – creepy. It’s very appropriate for a song called Twilight Zone, though. I read somewhere that this song is based off of a few episodes of the actual show called The Twilight Zone; the more you know.
4. Lessons – This song begins with a lovely, acoustic-sounding intro. At first you think this song might be about things that you learn over your lifetime… it kind of is, but… Then the song turns super angry, like Geddy is scolding someone. You hear him talk about how he had tried to teach someone something multiple times, yet they never listen. The peaceful guitar comes back and serves as rhythm for the fiery guitar solo – the mixing of musical emotions that I love so much. The killer solo continues as the song fades out.
5. Tears – We take a sharp turn from angry to super depressing. The intro is very calming, but you instantly know that this song is going to get sad; you probably should have guessed that by the title anyway. Geddy sings about someone near and dear to him being sad or maybe he’s sad with that person. It might be about a past lover, I can’t quite figure it out. The chorus is accompanied by some gorgeous strings arrangements that really help create the mood for this song. Even though it’s hard to determine what this song is about, you can hear some pain in Geddy’s voice. I know for a fact that he wrote this one, so you can only imagine what was on his heart that created this beautifully melancholy number.
6. Something For Nothing – The final song on the album starts out with an intro that gave me a Zeppelin vibe. It starts out sounding like it’s going to be a soft song, but then you hear the heavy riff between verses and it becomes more upbeat. Geddy’s screaming vocals transition you into a powerful guitar solo. Not only is the guitar powerful, but so are the lyrics; he throws in some super self-empowering stuff in there. It helps that Geddy is screaming them at you – it enforces the theme better and makes you want to do something about yourself. The chorus fades out into another guitar solo to end the song and finally, to conclude the album.
This album is one of my favorite concept albums, and one of my favorites in general, of all time. It shows some of the best progressive rock has to offer, and it showcases Rush at their best as well (although they’re always at their best). If you want to get into Rush or prog, this is definitely where to start.
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Geddy Lee does sound a bit like Robert Plant in Something for Nothing. Great review. - IronSabbathPriest
Thank you :3 - LizardKing99