Clockwork Angels is the nineteenth and final studio album by Canadian rock band Rush, released 12 June 2012 (8 and 13 in Australia and Europe) on Anthem Records. During the band's year-and-a-half break following its Snakes & Arrows Tour, the group decided to write a new studio album. The album was recorded in April 2010 at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee and from October to December 2011 at Revolution Recording in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
|Studio album by|
|Released||12 June 2012|
|Recorded||April 2010, October–December 2011|
|Singles from Clockwork Angels|
Two songs that would eventually appear on the album, "Caravan" and "BU2B," were released to radio stations and made available as a digital download on 1 June 2010. Following the release of the two songs, the band embarked on the Time Machine Tour, with "Caravan" and "BU2B" included in the set list. Clockwork Angels was completed following this tour. The album's second single, "Headlong Flight," was released 19 April 2012. The album's third single, "The Wreckers," was released 25 July 2012. On 20 February 2013, "The Anarchist" was released as the fourth and final single. A 10" picture disc version of the song "The Garden" was released as part of the 2013 Record Store Day Black Friday sale, limited to 3,000 copies.
Background and writingEdit
At the end of the band's Snakes & Arrows Tour in July 2008 the group took a year-and-a-half long break, during which Rush released the live albums Snakes & Arrows Live (2008) and the compilation Working Men (2009). The band reconvened in Los Angeles in December 2009 to discuss what projects they wanted to undertake in the coming year. Among their options were to start a new studio album and to undergo a major tour; as Neil Peart later wrote: "Fools that we are, we ended up doing both." The idea of an album with a back story as opposed to a collection of different songs became an attractive one to the group, for which Peart detailed one set in a fictional world with a suite of songs telling a story. Rush had worked on new material as early as February 2009, but Alex Lifeson denied a speculation that they were set to make a concept album at that time.
Rush adopted the band's usual songwriting methods which involved Geddy Lee and Lifeson working on music at their home studios in Toronto while Peart worked alone from his California home on the lyrics. The group had encouraged one another to become more spontaneous with their solos in live performance which became a primary element while writing new music for Clockwork Angels. Lifeson had to consciously hold himself back from layering guitar tracks as he wanted to emphasize the "basic rockiness of the songs" and resorted to greater use of double tracking. The sessions were productive; in March 2010, Lee said: "Just about a month and a half ago we had no songs. And now we've been writing and now we've got about six songs that we just love" and Lifeson predicted a spring 2011 release.
After some weeks into the writing Peart had developed his story further, leading to the band's agreement to adapt it into concept album while having each track make its own statement. Rush had previously recorded conceptual songs throughout the career, but had yet to commit to a full album concept. Lee was apprehensive towards the idea at first as he wanted the group to move forward in direction and not adopt something typical of fellow progressive rock bands of the 1970s. Music Radar wrote that despite the story-based theme, the album fails to get weighed down by the plot. In a change of pace, Peart wrote the lyrics to Clockwork Angels on a blank canvas without using any preconceived ideas that he had written down. Early in January 2010, Peart had written some ideas and sent them to Lee and Lifeson, who then paired the words to the pieces of music that they had come up with. Peart was influenced to devise a story and lyrics set it in a dystopian steampunk-inspired world "lit only by fire", named after the same-titled book on the history of the Middle Ages by William Manchester and "driven by steam, intricate clockworks, and alchemy". He had incorporated elements of ancient tradition with Tarot cards on Vapor Trails (2002) and the ancient Hindi game Leela on Snakes & Arrows and wanted to bring in alchemy for Clockwork Angels. Peart wrote a lyrical "chapter" for each of the album's twelve tracks, representing the mood or atmosphere of each track with its own symbol as depicted in the artwork. The plot is based on various sources such as Candide by Voltaire "with nods to" the novel The Sot-Weed Factor (1960) by John Barth and writers Michael Ondaatje, Joseph Conrad, Robertson Davies, Herbert Gold, Daphne du Maurier, and Cormac McCarthy, and early Spanish explorers in the American Southwest for the Seven Cities of Gold myth.
Development paused in April 2010 when Rush announced the band's Time Machine Tour which was initially set to run from June to October of that year. The tour saw Rush perform two new songs that they had written for Clockwork Angels entitled "Caravan" and "BU2B". They had also written "The Garden" and "The Anarchist" at that point. With the first half of the Time Machine Tour finished, Lee and Lifeson resumed to write the rest of the album in early 2011, but the sessions had not produced strong enough results barring from some "furious jams" that became the basis of "Carnies" and "Headlong Flight". There was also difficulty in matching Peart's lyrics to the new music which resulted in many rewrites, some on the day of recording via e-mail. Lifeson later complimented Peart: "Neil came through – he never complained."
In August 2010, Lifeson remarked that the album was turning out to be very musically diverse. In particular, Lifeson referred to the nearly finished title track "Clockwork Angels" as an "epic song" and a "multi-parted piece," described as "very dynamic." Peart said of the still in-work album in May 2011, "I intend it to be my highest achievement lyrically and drumming-wise." When the final writing sessions began in late 2011, Lee and Lifeson decided to swap instruments at one particular meeting. The result was what became "The Wreckers."
Clockwork Angels contains string arrangements composed of six violins and two cellos. Brad Madix stated when working the strings in the album: "I'd worked with strings in the past, but it was always either in a very quiet setting with minimal sound reinforcement or the violins were strictly electric. On Rush's Clockwork Angels Tour, the band definitely meant for the strings to be featured and acoustic."
Though the band's 1976 and 1978 albums 2112 and Hemispheres are often referred to as concept albums, Clockwork Angels is the band's only true concept album as the album features a continuous theme with the lyrics telling a story that runs from beginning to end. Caress of Steel, 2112 and Hemispheres all feature a sidelong suite that tells a story. However, the lyrics of the other songs on those three albums have very little if anything to do with those stories.
Rush recorded Clockwork Angels in two phases. The first took place in April 2010 at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee with Nick Raskulinecz returning as co-producer following his work on Snakes & Arrows (2007). The tracks "Caravan" and "BU2B" were recorded during this time and mixing was completed by Richard Chycki at the Sound Kitchen in Franklin, Tennessee. The band's initial plan was to return to the studio at the conclusion of the Time Machine Tour in October 2010 and have the album finished for a 2011 release. However, they decided to extend the tour with dates from March to July 2011, thus pushing back the release of Clockwork Angels. That August, the band announced their deal with Roadrunner Records in partnership with their domestic label Anthem Records to handle their international distribution, marking the end of their time with Atlantic Records which began with Presto (1989).
The second phase of recording took place at Revolution Recording in Toronto between October and December 2011. The strings were recorded at Ocean Way Recording in Los Angeles in January 2012.
On his personal website, Peart revealed that he took a new approach in writing and recording his drum tracks for the album: "I played through each song just a few times on my own, checking out patterns and fills that might work, then called in Booujzhe. He stood in the room with me, facing my drums, with a music stand and a single drumstick—he was my conductor, and I was his orchestra ... I would attack the drums, responding to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes, and together we would hammer out the basic architecture of the part. His baton would conduct me into choruses, half-time bridges, and double-time outros and so on—so I didn't have to worry about their durations. No counting, and no endless repetition."
On 9 February 2012, science fiction novelist Kevin J. Anderson, a long time friend of Neil Peart, announced that he would be writing a novelization of Clockwork Angels. He also revealed information about the album's concept:
In a young man's quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.
Released on 4 September 2012, the novel was followed by a loose sequel titled Clockwork Lives, which was published on 15 September 2015.
The album's front cover, designed by Rush's longtime collaborator Hugh Syme, depicts a clock marked with alchemical symbols instead of numbers. It displays the time as 9:12, which in 24-hour time is 21:12, a reference to the band's fourth studio album, 2112 (1976).
Release and receptionEdit
|The Austin Chronicle|||
|The A.V. Club||A-|
|Consequence of Sound|||
Clockwork Angels was released on 8 June 2012 in Australia, followed by the United States and Canada on 12 June and in Europe on 13 June. British magazine Classic Rock released a limited edition fan pack containing the album and 132-page magazine on 11 June.
The single "Caravan" was released 1 June 2010 to radio stations and made available for digital download at this time along with "BU2B". The second single, "Headlong Flight", was released to radio stations and for online streaming on 19 April 2012.
The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 103,000 units the first week. In Canada, the album debuted at No. 1 with sales of 20,000 units. By 20 June, over 40,000 copies of the Classic Rock fan pack had been sold. Had this release been eligible for the UK Albums Chart, the album would have debuted at No. 1. As more people bought the fan pack than the album alone, the latter debuted at No. 76 in the UK before it reached its peak at No. 21.
Clockwork Angels holds a score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews, which indicates "generally favourable reviews". Classic Rock scored the album a 9/10 and called it Rush's best release in 30 years. Jamie Thompson of The Guardian wrote in his review that "those who worship at the temple of Rush will be in raptures; for those who remain agnostic, there may well be enough here to justify a leap of faith." Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles editor-in-chief Martin Popoff gave the album a perfect 10/10 and said of it, "one can't deny that there's more purpose and focus here than on any Rush album ever".
In 2019, Classic Rock named Clockwork Angels the number one album of the 2010s.
|7.||"Seven Cities of Gold"||6:32|
|11.||"Wish Them Well"||5:25|
Credits adapted from the album's liner notes.
- Geddy Lee – bass guitar, bass pedals, lead vocals, synthesizers
- Alex Lifeson – guitars (electric, acoustic and 12-string), additional keyboards
- Neil Peart – drums, percussion
|Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)||57|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)||55|
|Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)||65|
|Canadian Albums (Billboard)||1|
|Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)||11|
|Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)||4|
|French Albums (SNEP)||173|
|German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)||11|
|Hungarian Albums (Mahasz)||32|
|Italian Albums (FIMI)||33|
|Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)||4|
|Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)||58|
|Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)||8|
|Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)||21|
|UK Albums (OCC)||21|
|US Billboard 200||2|
- "JB-Hifi Pre-Order". Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- Greenwald, David (11 April 2012). "Rush's 'Clockwork Angels' Hits June 12". Billboard. Retrieved 11 April 2012.
- "Rush Unveils New Music; Legendary Rock Band Return With New Single "Caravan" Plus Additional Track "BU2B" From Upcoming 20th Studio Album; Both Songs to Be Performed Live on "Time Machine Tour"; "Caravan" to Be Available at All DSPs on June 1st; "CLOCKWORK ANGELS" Set for Release in 2011". Marketwire. 25 May 2010. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "2013 JUNO Award Winners". junoawards.ca. Archived from the original on 20 February 2013. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
- Peart, Neil (2012). "The Future as Seen From the Past (Or: "Yesterday's Tomorrowland")". Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Bosso, Joe (16 February 2009). "Alex Lifeson says Rush won't make 'concept' album". musicradar.com. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Bosso, Joe (25 May 2012). "Interview: Alex Lifeson talks Rush's Clockwork Angels track-by-track". Music Radar. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Bradshaw, James (27 March 2010). "Rush's Alex Lifeson on doing what he loves". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2012. Alt URL
- Stevenson, Jane (26 March 2010). "Rush-ing into Songwriters Hall". Jam!. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "The CBC interview with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson". CBC News. Retrieved 25 March 2010.
- Ewing, Jerry (June 2012). "Angelic Upstarts". PROG. No. 26. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- "Rush Time Machine North American Tour 2010 Featuring for the First Time Ever Moving Pictures in its Entirety". PR Newswire. 8 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
- "RUSH Guitarist Talks Upcoming Album, Current Tour". Blabbermouth.net. 25 August 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
- "Interview excerpts: Neil Peart (Rush) Classic Rock's Prog Magazine". Rushisaband.com. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2011.
- FOH Engineer Brad Madix Uses Radial PZ-DI On Tour with Rush Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine. Mix Online. 24 April 2013. Accessed from 4 May 2013.
- "RUSH – New Album Title Revealed; Clockwork Angels Due In 2011". News. Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. 25 May 2010. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- Laing, Rob (10 January 2011). "Interview: Alex Lifeson (Rush) Guitarist Magazine". MusicRadar. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
- "Rush Signs to Roadrunner Records!". Roadrunner Records. 31 August 2011. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Wardlaw, Matt (27 December 2011). "Rush Complete Recording Of 'Clockwork Angels'". Ultimate Classic Rock.com. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
- Peart, Neil (January 2012). "At the Gate of the Year". NEWS, WEATHER, and SPORTS. Neil Peart.net. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "Author Kevin J. Anderson to write novelization of Rush's upcoming Clockwork Angels album". Rushisaband.com. Retrieved 6 May 2012.
- Elliot, Paul (21 June 2012). "Life Lessons – An Interview With Alex Lifeson of Rush". Classic Rock Revisited. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "Clockwork Angels Album And Tourbook Covers Leaked". 2112.net. Power Windows. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
- "Clockwork Angels Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- Jurek, Thom. Clockwork Angels – Rush at AllMusic. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- Hernandez, Raoul (10 August 2012). "Rush: Clockwork Angels (Roadrunner)". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Heller, Jason (19 June 2012). "Rush: Clockwork Angels". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Van Horn Jr., Ray. "Rush: Clockwork Angels". Blabbermouth.net. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- von Bader, David (22 June 2012). "Album Review: Rush – Clockwork Angels". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Thomson, Jamie (5 July 2012). "Rush: Clockwork Angels – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
- "Rush – Clockwork Angels". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 17 July 2012.
- Boles, Benjamin (14–21 June 2012). "Rush – Clockwork Angels". Now. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Ezell, Brice (21 June 2012). "Rush: Clockwork Angels". PopMatters. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- Dolan, Jon (18 June 2012). "Clockwork Angels". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Clockwork Angels fanpack". Classic Rock Magazine. Retrieved 17 June 2012.
- Caulfield, Keith. "Rush, Josh Turner, Waka Flocka Flame Among Top 10 Debuts". Billboard. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- "Clockwork Angels Debuts at #2 on Billboard Charts". Power Windows. 2112.net. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Dowling, Marianne (20 June 2012). "Rush's 'Angels' flies up the charts". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- "Rush Match Highest Charting of Their Career With "CLOCKWORK ANGELS"". Broadcast Newsroom. 20 June 2012. Archived from the original on 27 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
- "Clockwork Angels – Rush". Official Charts. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
- Everley, Dave (July 2012). "Rush – Clockwork Angels". Classic Rock. No. 172. p. 95.
- Popoff, Martin (24 May 2012). "RUSH – Martin Popoff Reviews Clockwork Angels". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
- "Clockwork Angels Press Release – Album Coming June 12, Single April 19th". Power Windows. 2112.net. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- "Austriancharts.at – Rush – Clockwork Angels" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Ultratop.be – Rush – Clockwork Angels" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Ultratop.be – Rush – Clockwork Angels" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Rush – Clockwork Angels" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Rush: Clockwork Angels" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Lescharts.com – Rush – Clockwork Angels". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – Rush – Clockwork Angels" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "MAHASZ – Magyar Hanglemezkiadók Szövetsége". mahasz.hu. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
- "Italiancharts.com – Rush – Clockwork Angels". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Rush – Clockwork Angels". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Spanishcharts.com – Rush – Clockwork Angels". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Rush – Clockwork Angels". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Swisscharts.com – Rush – Clockwork Angels". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved July 3, 2020.