I like to write reviews about albums that have meant something for me personally and Hold Your Fire is definitely one of those. It went from a record that didn’t appeal to me on any particular level to one of my absolute favourite records from one of my favourite bands.
As a fan of almost everything that Rush has created musically during the years, including the records of the seventies as well as the nineties, it has always been the eighties era of the bands music that has appealed to my musical taste the most. With Moving Pictures, Grace Under Pressure and Power Windows they created music on a higher emotional level than before, leaving the science fiction lyrics and long rock epics for more human based themes and a music that was more of an intellectual art form, more developed and matured. My favourite album during this time was Power Windows with its symphonic keyboard sound and melodic and powerful melodies, mixing the guitar, bass and keyboard on a balanced level. Hold Your Fire had something that I just couldn’t get into the same way; it seemed more complicated and more experimental for a seventeen old lad like me, touching themes that I couldn’t understand in the same easy way as the themes of Power Windows.
But as the months went by I and I listened more frequently to the record something happened that made me want to listen more to it. Songs that hadn’t touched me before; Prime Mover, Second Nature, Lock And Key, suddenly had something about them that made me remember why Rush is one of my favourite bands; their ability to go beyond the music fashion of the time, borrowing ingredients of what characterize this ongoing trend and turning this into something more intellectual, complex, emotional and original than most other artists manage or ever would dear to do. I suddenly understood why the textbook in their greatest hits album Chronicles said that with Hold Your Fire the band had climbed to the top of the hill, reaching their musical highpoint.
It seems like the keyboard sound that is used on this album as well as some other albums of the eighties scares away some of the old-school Rush fans, claiming that it destroyed the sound of the band that they once had fallen in love with and learned to characterize with Rush. But personally I don’t judge music for the use of keyboard sounds or the lack of epics, I judge it for its musicality and originality. Hold Your Fire contains both these ingredients and it creates a musical landscape created by world class musicianship both on an instrumental and lyrical level. The music is melodic art as its best, linking lyrics and music together with a sound that has such originality that it can’t be heard, not even on a small level, on any other record of any other band. And that’s what progressive and experimental music is all about, it doesn’t have to be 20 minute epics with time changes every ten seconds to fill that criteria.