Admittedly, I am a fan of post-70s Rush…I think pretty much everything from Permanent Waves onwards is quality material. Which is not to say that the pre-80s stuff is poor–there are a number of songs from that period which I enjoy–but I feel they really hit their groove in the 80s. Hold Your Fire is their best creation of that decade.To begin, yes keyboards and synths are used quite frequently on this album. However, why some people interpret that to mean that Rush “stopped playing their instruments” or that Alex was replaced is mystifying to me. The synths on HYF add a nice additional texture to their music, and COMPLIMENT, rather than contradict, Alex’s guitar parts.The songs themselves are top-notch, and being one of the most pop-friendly albums the group have produced, this ends up being one of the albums I recommend first to non-fans. “Force Ten” begins with a jackhammer, and doesn’t let up from there. “Time Stand Still” is one of Rush’s catchiest, most memorable singles from this decade. “Prime Mover” and “Mission” are simply great, uplifting power-pop songs, while “Lock and Key” showcases the band’s well-known musical prowess. Neil Peart’s lyrics are, as usual, top notch, and deal more pointedly with social issues than in albums past. Geddy, long having since moved out of the “shrieking” period and into the “singing” period, sounds terrific, and Alex’s solos here rate as among the best of his career (particularly the end of Mission).Overall, while some songs are certainly better than others, there really isn’t a bad song on this disc. HYF remains one of the warmest, most accessible albums the trio have ever released. For those looking to break easily into the realm of this fantastic group, and for whom the idea of a 12 minute epic called “Bytor and the Snowdog” is a bit intimidating, Hold Your Fire represents an outstanding starting point.