Geddy Lee is pissed. In song after song on Snakes & Arrows, the 248th studio album by his Canadian power trio Rush, Lee registers his discontent with current geopolitical affairs in language far feistier (not to mention more coherent) than the lukewarm invective we usually get from rock stars hesitant to piss off red-state constituents so out of touch they still use paper money to buy CDs: "Now it's come to this," Lee observes in "The Way the Wind Blows," "Wide-eyed armies of the faithful from the Middle East to the Middle West/Pray and pass the ammunition." Later, in "Faithless," the singer bemoans the omnipresence of the "preaching voices" he likens to "empty vessels [that] ring so loud." And in "Good News First," he admits (with anger, not resignation) that "the best we can agree on is it could have been worse."
Unfortunately, despite the participation of producer Nick Raskulinecz—who's lent rock-dude muscle to records by Foo Fighters, Danzig, and Shadows Fall—the music on Snakes & Arrows doesn't do justice to Lee's lyrical vitriol. Riffs? Sure, they've got loads. (Proceed directly to "Bravest Face" for the sharpest ones here.) But the majority of the album sounds thin and overworked, which saps the material of the urgency necessary to make Lee seem more powerful than somebody updating his blog from his basement. Who's afraid of that guy?