Snakes and Arrows is Rush's first studio album since 2004, and their first full length, fully original album since 2002. While Snakes and Arrows is an improvement over 2002's Vapor Trails, the album doesn't contain the vitality of their previous albums. Songs like Far Cry, Armor and Sword, The Main Monkey Business (the most jamming they have done in years), and We Hold On come close, but still fall short. Malignant Narcissism is a wonderful instrumental, but still doesn't reach the levels of YYZ. The songs on this album are not bad by any stretch, however. One thing that I was pleasantly surprised to see was the heavy emphasis on drums on this album, as opposed to Vapor Trails or Feedback, which really showed Neil Peart's ability. This adds a fresh vibe to the album. The other instruments are heavy as well. The lyrical themes are also heavy and grave, almost too much so. The lyrics are about war, faith, and suffering. Malignant Narcissism is actually a humorous title, coming from a line from Team America: World Police, which is humorous, but seems out of place on this serious album.
Overall, this is a really great album. Just because it can't quite live up to masterpieces like Moving Pictures, doesn't mean it is not good. When you factor in that this band has been around since the early 1970's, it is amazing that their albums can retain such quality.
(9 out of 10)