For Fans Of
The age old argument of what is and isn’t punk rock is never going to get resolved, however I will ask one question before we get started. How many politically active, pro-vegetarian and socially conscious bands can you name that have achieved the same level of commercial recognition and success as Rise Against? Say what you will about the band’s music, but the Chicago based four-piece have been able to spread their message to hundreds of thousands of people across the world, and they’ve done so without compromising their original mission statement.
Appeal To Reason is the group’s fifth full-length record, and while some of RA’s long-term fans will still cry poor at the reduced (remember, I said reduced, there’s still some fast-paced tunes on offer) use of double-time drum beats, the fourteen songs on offer are proof that Tim McIlrath is one of the better songwriters this scene has produced in the last decade.
The energetic “Collapse” gets things off to a great start, with new-ish guitarist Zach Blair (formerly of Only Crime and Hagfish) making his presence felt instantly with a series of flashy lead breaks, while Tim ensures that the song’s chorus is as instantly memorable as anything else in the band’s back catalogue. No doubt we’ll be hearing this one when the band hits our shores in March 2009! “Long Forgotten Sons” is another crowd friendly tune, albeit one that rocks to an entirely different beat, the prominent bass-lines and vocal harmonies making this one of the record’s strongest tracks.
Lead single “Re-Education (Through Labor)” is as catchy as the come. With Tim’s now trademark vocal delivery in full effect; the song was an obvious choice when it came to giving fans a taste of the new-look Rise Against. The pop-punk leanings of “The Dirt Whispered” make for a subtle change in the album’s dynamics, however there’s no mistaking the band’s intentions when the powerful “Kotov Syndrome” hits top gear, while the hooks in “From Heads Unworthy” will send most bands scrambling back to the songwriting drawing board.
The double-punch that is “The Strength To Go On” and “Audience Of One” could very well be the best seven minutes of music I’ve heard in 2008, with both tunes packing arena sized choruses. Although the two aforementioned songs are the best Appeal To Reason has to offer, it in no way means the remainder of the record is a let down. Whether we’re talking about the show-tune styled verses of “Audience Of One”, the stripped back “Hero Of War” or the anthemic “Hairline Fracture”, each and every song on offer is top-notch.
Once again Rise Against have shown why they are a band with universal appeal (pun fully intended). They are as popular with the Taste Of Chaos crowd as they are with the Fat Wreck obsessed masses, and if they continue to write records of this caliber then they will remain a relevant part of modern punk rock for years to come.
- Collapse (Post – Amerika)
- Long Forgotten Sons
- Re-Education (Through Labor)
- The Dirt Whispered
- Kotov Syndrome
- From Heads Unworthy
- The Strength To Go On
- Audience Of One
- Hero Of War
- Hairline Fracture
- Whereabouts Unknown
- History Calamitatum (Bonus Track)