Clockwork Angels is the nineteenth full-length studio album by Canadian rock band Rush released on June 12, 2012. The album was recorded in April 2010 at Blackbird Studio in Nashville, Tennessee and from October - December 2011 at Revolution Recording in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.[3]

Two songs that would eventually appear on the album, "Caravan" and "BU2B", were released to radio stations and made available for online digital purchase on June 1, 2010.[4] Following the release of these two songs, the band embarked on the Time Machine Tour in 2010 and 2011 with the first live performances of "Caravan" and "BU2B" as part of the nightly set list. Clockwork Angels was completed following this tour. The album's second single, titled "Headlong Flight", was released on April 19, 2012. The album's third single, "The Wreckers", was released on July 25, 2012. On February 20, 2013, "The Anarchist" was released as the fourth and final single. A 10" picture disc version of the song "The Garden" was released as part of the 2013 Record Store Day Black Friday sale. It was limited to 3,000 copies and is sold out.

The album debuted at #1 in Canada and at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart.[5][6] The album won the award for Rock Album of the Year at the 2013 Juno Awards.[7]


 [hide*1 Background


One of the earliest indications that the band would begin working on new studio material came from an interview with guitarist Alex Lifeson in February 2009. At this time he speculated that Nick Raskulinecz, who worked with the band on their previous album Snakes & Arrows, would be invited to return as co-producer. At the same time, he denied that the band would create a "concept album".[8]

On March 19, 2010, the CBC posted a video interview with bassist/vocalist Geddy Lee and Lifeson, which contained the first definitive announcement by the members of Rush. At the time, Lee was quoted as saying "... Just about a month and a half ago we had no songs. And now we've been writing and now we've got about six songs that we just love...".[9] On March 26, 2010, in an interview with The Globe and Mail, Lifeson reconfirmed that the band had already written a half-dozen songs and that there was the potential for two supporting tours, one planned for Summer 2010 and a more extensive tour planned for Summer 2011. While still uncertain of exactly how and when the new material would be released, at the time he projected a tentative Spring 2011 release date.[10] By late March 2010, drummer and lyricist Neil Peart confirmed that American producer Nick Raskulinecz had returned as co-producer.[11]

In April 2010, Rush entered Blackbird Studios in Nashville with Raskulinecz to record the songs "Caravan" and "BU2B" with mixing done by record engineer Richard Chycki at the Sound Kitchen in Franklin, Tennessee.[4] The single "Caravan" was released June 1 to radio stations and made available for digital download at this time along with "BU2B".[4] On April 8, both the official Rush website and PR Newswire announced that the band would embark on the Time Machine Tour, confirming Lifeson's earlier predictions from March. The first leg of the tour began on June 29 in AlbuquerqueNew Mexico and finished October 17 in Santiago, Chile at the National stadium. Both "Caravan" and "BU2B" were featured on the tour.[12] It was suggested that Rush would return to the studio after the completion of the tour with plans to release Clockwork Angels in 2011.[13] However, in a January 2011 interview with Guitarist Magazine, Lifeson indicated that the band was extending the tour and that the release of the album would be delayed.[14] The second leg began on March 30, 2011 in Fort Lauderdale and came to an end on July 2, 2011 in George, Washington.[15] Confirmed by an announcement from Richard Chycki via Twitter on December 20, 2011, Rush finished recording Clockwork Angels in Toronto, ON.[16] The album's second official single, "Headlong Flight", was released to radio stations and for online streaming on April 19.

On his personal website, Neil Peart revealed that he took a new approach in writing and recording his drum tracks for the album: "I played through each song just a few times on my own, checking out patterns and fills that might work, then called in Booujzhe. He stood in the room with me, facing my drums, with a music stand and a single drumstick—he was my conductor, and I was his orchestra... I would attack the drums, responding to his enthusiasm, and his suggestions between takes, and together we would hammer out the basic architecture of the part. His baton would conduct me into choruses, half-time bridges, and double-time outros and so on—so I didn’t have to worry about their durations. No counting, and no endless repetition."[17]


Clockwork Angels contains string arrangements composed of six violins and two cellos. The strings were placed directly behind Neil Peart's drum kit.[18]

Brad Madix stated when working the strings in the album: "I'd worked with strings in the past, but it was always either in a very quiet setting with minimal sound reinforcement or the violins were strictly electric. On Rush's Clockwork Angels Tour, the band definitely meant for the strings to be featured and acoustic."[18]


On February 9, 2012, science fiction novelist Kevin J. Anderson, a long time friend of Neil Peart, announced that he would be writing a novelization of Clockwork Angels. He also revealed information about the album's concept:[19]

In a young man's quest to follow his dreams, he is caught between the grandiose forces of order and chaos. He travels across a lavish and colorful world of steampunk and alchemy, with lost cities, pirates, anarchists, exotic carnivals, and a rigid Watchmaker who imposes precision on every aspect of daily life.

The novel was released on September 4, 2012.

Cover artwork[edit]Edit

The album's cover depicts a clock marked with alchemical symbols instead of numbers. It displays the time as 9:12 (21:12 in 24-hour time),[20] in reference to the band's 2112 album and its title suite. Other symbols are incorporated into the band name and album title. The cover art was illustrated by graphics artist and long-time Rush collaborator Hugh Syme.

Release and reception[edit]Edit

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (74/100)[21]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [22]
The Austin Chronicle [23]
The A.V. Club A-[24] (8/10)[25]
Consequence of Sound [26]
The Guardian [27]
Metal Hammer [28]
Now [29]
PopMatters [30]
Rolling Stone [31]

Clockwork Angels was released in Australia on June 8,[1] and to the United States and Canada on June 12. British magazine Classic Rock released a 'fanpack', which includes the full CD, as well as a 132-page magazine that forms the 'ultimate sleevenotes' to the album on June 11.[32]

The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 with sales of 103,000 units the first week.[33][34] In Canada, the album debuted at #1 with sales of 20,000 units.[35] The UK Classic Rock fanpack was ineligible to chart, but had it been eligible, the album would have debuted at #1.[36] As more people bought the fanpack than the album alone, it debuted at #76 in the UK.[37]

Clockwork Angels holds a score of 74 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 14 reviews, which indicates "generally favourable reviews".[21] Classic Rock scored the album a 9/10 and called it Rush's best release in 30 years.[38] Jamie Thompson of The Guardian wrote in his review that "those who worship at the temple of Rush will be in raptures; for those who remain agnostic, there may well be enough here to justify a leap of faith."[27] Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles editor-in-chief Martin Popoff gave the album a perfect 10/10 and said of it, "one can't deny that there's more purpose and focus here than on any Rush album ever".[39]

In late August 2010, Lifeson had remarked at the time that the album was turning out to be very musically diverse. In particular, Lifeson referred to the nearly finished title track "Clockwork Angels" as an "epic song" and a "multi-parted piece". He described it as "very dynamic".[40] Peart said of the still in-work album in May 2011, "I intend it to be my highest achievement lyrically and drumming wise."[41]



All lyrics written by Neil Peart, all music composed by Geddy Lee & Alex Lifeson.

No. Title Length
1. "Caravan"   5:39
2. "BU2B"   5:10
3. "Clockwork Angels"   7:31
4. "The Anarchist"   6:52
5. "Carnies"   4:53
6. "Halo Effect"   3:14
7. "Seven Cities of Gold"   6:32
8. "The Wreckers"   5:01
9. "Headlong Flight"   7:19
10. "BU2B2"   1:28
11. "Wish Them Well"   5:25
12. "The Garden"   6:59
Total length: 1:06:03



  • Geddy Lee - Bass guitar, bass pedals, lead vocals, synthesizers
  • Alex Lifeson - Guitar (electric, acoustic & 12-string), additional keyboards
  • Neil Peart - Drums & percussion

Additional musicians[edit]Edit


  • Arranged & Produced by Rush & Nick Raskulinecz
  • Recording Engineers: Richard Chycki, Martin Cooke, Jason DuFour, Paul Fig & Stephen Koszler
  • Mixed by Nick Raskulinecz
  • Mastered by Brian Gardner


"Caravan"/"BU2B" 5:40/4:21
  • Released: June 1, 2010
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush & Nick Raskulinecz
  • Chart positions: #2 Bubbling Under Hot 100; #38 US Mainstream Rock/#19 US Bubbling Under Hot 100
"Headlong Flight" 7:20 (5:08 Radio Edit)
  • Released: April 19, 2012
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush & Nick Raskulinecz
  • Chart positions: #5 US Mainstream Rock
"The Wreckers" 5:01
  • Released: July 25, 2012
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson & Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush & Nick Raskulinecz
  • Chart positions: #38 US Mainstream Rock
"The Anarchist"
  • Released: February 2, 2013
  • Written by: Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart
  • Produced by: Rush & Nick Raskulinecz
  • Chart Positions:


Chart (2012) Peak


Billboard 200[33] 2
Canadian Albums Chart[35] 1
UK Albums Chart[37] 21
Finnish Albums Chart[35] 4
Hungarian Albums Chart[43] 32
Swiss Albums Chart[35] 21
German Albums Chart[35] 11
Swedish Albums Chart[35] 8
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