Length: 45:00, 5 tracks
Genre: Progressive Rock, Hard Rock
Label: Anthem Records in Canada, Atlantic Records in Japan, Mercury Records in the US
Producer: Rush & Terry Brown
Geddy Lee - vocals, bass
Alex Lifeson - guitars
Neil Peart - drums
Caress of Steel is the third album by Canadian rock band Rush. After having moderate success with their first two records, Rush made the most daring decision of their entire career. The band abandoned their blues-infused hard rock sound from their first two records for a progressive rock sound. This is shown by the band's choice to include two long progressive epics that account for nearly 33 minutes of the 45-minute long affair. At the time of its release, the album was poorly received by fans and critics alike. Most of this was due to the overly ambitious and somewhat pretentious nature of the record which strayed so much from the band's hard rock sound from their previous two records.
1. "Bastille Day"
This is the ideal opener for Rush's third release. The entire band delivers an incredible performance thanks to Neil's thunderous drumming and great lyricism, Lifeson's huge riffs, and Geddy's unbridled vocals along with his spectacular bass playing. The songwriting is reminiscent of the band's previous two albums due to its hard rock style. Overall, this is a great track.
2. . "I Think I'm Going Bald"
Here is the first mistake on the album. I do like the instrumentation and sound of this track though. Lifeson delivers some terrific hard rock riffs and solos, Geddy gives a solid vocal performance, and Neil's drumming is pretty decent. The only problem with this song is the atrocious lyrics. It ruins the entire song thanks to lyrics like "I'll still be gray my way."
3. "Lakeside Park"
"Lakeside Park" is a softer rock tune with some nice vocal melodies and guitar playing. The only problem with it is how little of a desire I have to revisit it. Nothing about it is particularly bad, but nothing about it is very good either. It is a decent track when I do listen to this album, but I never listen to this song on its own.
4. "The Necromancer"
Now comes my favorite track from the entire album. "The Necromancer" is a bit overwhelming upon first listen due to the strange spoken-word parts, the length, insane guitar solos, and its tempo changes. The track also drags a bit in certain sections, but once I listened to it multiple times it quickly became one of my favorite Rush songs. This track is one of the band's earliest classics thanks to its captivating storytelling, impressive performances, and its unique songwriting that contains heavy metal riffing along with intricate progressive elements.
5. "The Fountain of Lamneth"
This song is the most ambitious track on the entire album. The lyrics are about a man's journey to find the Fountain of Lamneth, but when analyzed further the song is a metaphor for a person's life. The songwriting is some of the band's most creative and unique thanks to Peart's creative lyrics, time changes, and variation between softer and heavier instrumentation. "The Fountain of Lamneth" is a lot to take in upon first listen so do not be discouraged if you do not like the song at first, but I can assure you that with more listens it will become one of your favorites.
The songwriting is fantastic. The epics on the record contain some of the band's most unique songwriting. I love the utilization of heavy metal riffing on "The Necromancer" and "Bastille Day" as well as Neil's fantastic lyrics. The lyrics of "The Fountain of Lamneth" are incredible and the instrumentation matches it. Overall, the only flaw with this album's songwriting is the lyrics to "I Think I'm Going Bald" and the overly simple nature of "Lakeside Park".
The performances of the band are excellent. Geddy's vocals are unleashed after being somewhat held back on the band's previous release, Lifeson gives his finest performance yet, and Peart delivers some incredible drumming.
The production is definitely a positive for this album. Songs like "Bastille Day" and "The Necromancer" sound really heavy and parts of "The Fountain of Lamneth" sound magical. It may not be the best Rush production, but it sounds great most of the time.
The biggest flaw with this release is the album structure. At times it does not flow well because of the back to back epics that close out the album. In my opinion, the band should have moved "The Necromancer" up one track and moved "Lakeside Park" behind it. This would have fixed the album's biggest flaw.
4/10: Below Average
6/10: Above Average
Caress of Steel may not flow well at times due to its overly ambitious nature, but that does not change the fact that this album contains some of the band's most unique songwriting.