Snakes & Arrows
|Snakes & Arrows|
|Studio album by Rush|
|Released||May 1, 2007|
|Recorded||November - December 2006 at Allaire Studios in Shokan, New York|
|Genre||Progressive rock, hard rock|
Anthem Records (Canada)
|Producer||Nick Raskulinecz and Rush|
|Singles from Snakes & Arrows|
|Manchester Evening News|||
|The Washington Post||(favorable) |
Snakes & Arrows is the nineteenth studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush. Released on May 1, 2007, it was their first studio outing since 2004's Feedback, and their last studio album officially with Atlantic Records (at least in the US, where they changed distributors to Roadrunner Records as of August 31, 2011). The album was recorded in five weeks between November and December 2006 at Allaire Studios in New York’s Catskill Mountains and mixed and mastered at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, California. Snakes & Arrows was released on CD on May 1, 2007, as a double LP album on June 19 (limited to 5,000 copies), as well as the new MVI (Music Video Interactive) format (limited to 25,000 copies) on June 26. Snakes & Arrows debuted at #3 on the The Billboard 200 chart where it remained for 14 weeks. It was certified gold in Canada in September 2007. The track "Malignant Narcissism" was nominated for a Grammy Award under the category Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The album was named as one of Classic Rock‘s 10 essential progressive rock albums of the decade. It was reissued and remastered in 2013 as a part of the box set The Studio Albums 1989-2007.
According to drummer and lyricist Neil Peart, inspiration for the title of the album was conceived after considerable research from several sources; the 2000-year-old Buddhist game called "Leela, the Game of Self-Knowledge," the related children's game Snakes and Ladders (also known as Chutes and Ladders), and Hamlet's quote "slings and arrows." This information helped convince bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson to adopt the original painting of the age old game board as the cover for the new album.
Promotion and release
On March 12, 2007, the band unveiled a new website at the official Rush website, primarily to promote the album. The first single from the album, "Far Cry," was posted as on-demand streaming audio on this site at that time. The band also announced that the single was being released to North American radio stations. On May 8, 2007, the band announced the release of a video for "Far Cry," and on June 1, 2007, "Spindrift" was released to radio stations as the album's official second single. The third single for the album, "The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum)" was released June 25 to North American radio where it positioned within the top 30 of the Mainstream Rock and Media Base Mainstream charts. In promotion of Snakes & Arrows, Rush kicked off their planned intercontinental tour on June 13, 2007, in Atlanta, Georgia, which ran through October and covered most of North America and Europe. The 2008 leg of the tour started on April 11, 2008, in San Juan, Puerto Rico at José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum and came to a close July 24, 2008, in Noblesville, Indiana.
The album debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling about 93,000 copies in its first week. These figures only reflect sales of the CD version of the album, and do not include the MVI or LP versions.
Writing and production
Writing for Snakes & Arrows began in January 2006 with Lee and Lifeson working at their home studio in Toronto. The pair began the writing process by jamming, which gradually molded their ideas into completed pieces. During this process, Neil Peart wrote preliminary lyrics for the songs – a creative method the band has frequently employed on their earlier works. Peart, originally from the Toronto area, has lived in Southern California since 2000. To continue working with his bandmates for the new album, he commuted to Ontario and New York throughout the writing and recording phases. When Peart was in California, the band occasionally collaborated over the Internet.
By March 2006, rough versions of six songs had been completed. The three band members met in Quebec to listen to the material recorded thus far. In May 2006, they refined the songs in a small professional studio in Toronto. After the first six songs were recorded, the band set out to write and record additional songs in September.
American producer Nick Raskulinecz, who worked with Foo Fighters, was hired to assist the band in producing the album. Raskulinecz, a self-proclaimed fan of the band, volunteered to work on the album after hearing about its production on the internet, and two months later was invited to meet the band at Lee's house. Raskulinecz reportedly encouraged the band members to explore the limits of their renowned talents and enthusiastically encouraged the band to incorporate the complex rhythmic and melodic patterns that characterized their earlier works. The final tracking of the album was recorded at Allaire Studios in Shokan, New York; mixed by Richard Chycki at Ocean Way Studios in Los Angeles, California, and mastered by Brian Gardner.
In a first for Rush, this album contains multiple instrumental tracks: "The Main Monkey Business," "Hope," and "Malignant Narcissism." This also marks the first new instrumental piece(s) composed by the band since "Limbo," on 1996's Test for Echo.
Neil Peart's customary essay on the writing and recording of the album, called The Game of Snakes and Arrows, has been released on the Rush website. Neil also wrote an article that appeared in the August 2007 issue of Modern Drummer in which he details his writing process for the album.
Influences and musical direction
Peart, the band's primary lyricist, has stated the lyrical theme of the album is based on his personal reflections on faith, inspired by his motorcycle journeys through North America. Many of the experiences mentioned in the lyrics of Snakes & Arrows evolved from Peart's memoirs from his most recent book: Roadshow: Landscape With Drums, A Concert Tour By Motorcycle.
According to Alex Lifeson, musical themes for the album were written and developed using acoustic guitars to work out the major parts. These parts were ultimately recorded using acoustic or electric guitars, or other instruments. Lifeson found that writing the songs on acoustic guitars provided a certain purity, assisting him in conceiving the instrumental parts. Both he and Lee used this as an alternative to more traditional methods of song development, which saw the use of amplified electric guitars and the assistance of electronic instruments. David Gilmour is credited in the liner notes because he inspired Lifeson to write songs mostly on acoustic guitar. According to an interview from the Sept 2007 issue of Guitar Player Magazine, Lifeson mentioned meeting Gilmour at a concert at Toronto's Massey Hall during Gilmour's "On an Island" tour.
Snakes & Arrows is one of the first albums released on Warner Music's "MVI (Music Video Interactive) format." This format is a 25,000 copy limited edition. The album comes in a deluxe box, and includes the 13 songs on the album in hi-resolution audio, the entire album in 5.1 surround sound, a 40 minute video documentary on the making of the album, 26-page booklet (4 pages more than the otherwise identical CD booklet), wallpapers, buddy icons and an exclusive poster for fans that register the MVI copy. After several production delays, the MVI was released on June 26, 2007.
The DVD-ROM portion has 192-kbit/s MP3 files of the entire album. The DVD-Video portion contains both a "high-resolution audio" track (96 kHz/24-bit stereo LPCM) as well as a 5.1 surround-sound track (448 kbit/s Dolby Digital, 48 kHz). There is no DVD-Audio content on the disc.
|2.||"Armor and Sword"||6:36|
|3.||"Workin' Them Angels"||4:47|
|4.||"The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum)"||4:07|
|6.||"The Main Monkey Business"||6:01|
|7.||"The Way the Wind Blows"||6:28|
|11.||"Good News First"||4:51|
|13.||"We Hold On"||4:13|
Album - Billboard (North America)
|2007||The Billboard 200||3|
|Top Rock Albums||1|
|Top Internet Albums||1|
|"The Larger Bowl (A Pantoum)"
|"Workin' Them Angels"
- Geddy Lee – vocals, bass, mellotron, bass pedal
- Alex Lifeson – electric guitars, acoustic guitars, twelve-string guitars, mandolin, bouzouki
- Neil Peart – drums, percussion
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