Hemispheres marks the end of Rush, Book 1, “the full-blown art-rock conceptual piece”. On future releases, the band would condense their complex song structures into shorter songs, sacrificing self-indulgence for the sake of melody to create more accessible songs.And this is a fine closing chapter, for it bridges to where Rush was heading in the 80’s. In the span of 36 minutes, they said goodbye to the side-long suite (“Cygnus X=1, Part II”), said hello to tighter song structures (“Circumstances”), introduced us to the new condensed prog-rock (“The Trees”), and gave us a first glance at the fusionesque instrumental (“La Villa Strangiato”).Neil Peart’s lyrics also began to change here. After completing the Cygnus X-1 story, he would abandon the mythological and science fiction themes for good, and concentrate on more human themes, such as fear, isolation, the pressures of fame, prejudice, and loss, to name a few. Thus, as the years passed, he became more introspective, and the lyrics really took on deeper meaning and connected more effectively. There is a glimpse of the new direction here on “Circumstances”, one of his more underrated lyric pieces.You have to own this album if you want to hear Rush at their most “progressive”. If it is your first buy (highly unlikely), you must also pick up A Farewell To Kings, for you need to have “Cygnus X-1″ to fully understand the story behind the concept. Then proceed to Permanent Waves, and so on… Heck, buy them all, preferrably in chronological order, and take note of the directions Rush took with each in terms of music composition and lyrics. It will be well worth the money you spend, if you truly appreciate what these three extremely talented musicians have to bring to the table.