For Fans Of
I find it funny that so many critics are still addressing Rise Against’s roots and their first two releases in their reviews. It has been seven years since the band’s major label debut of Siren Song and the Counter Culture. Both The Unravelling and Revolutions Per Minute were fantastic albums, but they may as well have come from a different band. They’re change to a more accessible style has seen the Chicago 4-piece promoted from their position of fine underground flag-fliers to one of the biggest punk rock bands on the planet. Hell, their upcoming Australian tour is being played in stadiums, and for good reason – their last two albums have been some of the most creative and innovative releases of the last decade. Simply put, Endgame continues to polish and refine their ever-evolving style, and is a fantastic album all-round. That said, if Appeal to Reason is your favourite Rise Against album, I have a feeling it still will be after you’re through with Endgame. It’s just not going to have the impact that its’ predecessor did.
The album opener Architects is powerful, energetic but also very familiar. It could almost be interchangeable with Collapse, track 1 on Appeal to Reason. Tim McIlwrath‘s trademark vocals are all over it, strong from the outset. I’ve never understood how the man can shout in such a pop-happy way, but I was singing along to the chorus by the end of the first listen. Help Is On The Way was the first single off the album, and was really the perfect choice. Insanely catchy and containing some real wow-moments, I believe this will be the biggest song off the album.
The tremolo intro to Make It Stop bears a striking resemblance to the opening of Green Day‘s Boulevard of Broken Dreams, which shits me a little. That said, the song overall is quite powerful, with one of the strongest choruses on the album, focussing their message on stopping school bullying before it results in suicide or a shooting. The lyrics overall on this album are pissed off, as usual, but seem to take a the most positive outlook possible on the common theme that McIlwrath describes as ‘the end of humankind as we know it.’
Disparity By Design is the first song on the album that is raw energy from start to finish, it’s very guitar driven and when McIlwrath screams in the bridge, it’s hard not to smile at the intensity. For me, Satellite is pretty drab, the least impressive song on the album. It simply brings nothing new to the table and just isn’t all that memorable.
Midnight Hands is cool, big anthemic vocals, old-school metal riffage very different to anything the band have done. Broken Mirrors features the best guitar work on the album, again throwing some metal riffage into the mix of punk rock overtones and catchy pop hooks. I think Rise Against would be a successful metal band to be honest, I’d be interested to see them extend their exploration in this territory on future releases. Survivor Guilt makes really effective use of questioning voice-over and acoustic intricacy amongst bonecrushing riffs and explosive drumming.
Endgame is an album of incredible intros and Wait For Me and A Gentlemen’s Coup are no exception, the former using delicate fingerpicking and vocal harmonies that set a mood that is ultimately shattered by the full band entry and the latter using a cool punchy riff, augmented by a classic punk rock chord progression. Unfortunately, after the intro, A Gentleman’s Coup fails to remain interesting.
This Is Letting Go is a big song, both musically and lyrically, the melodic ideas are a great showcase of the band’s songwriting ability. Definitely not a bass player’s record, it’s refreshing to here a punchy, prominent bassline in the album’s closer, Endgame. However, while lyrically it wraps everything up, I don’t think musically it’s a great finisher for the album. It lacks the feeling of finality that you come to expect from a closer, and at 3:24 it’s the shortest song on the album.
If you’re still hanging onto the idea that Rise Against are going to release another Revolutions Per Minute, prepare to be continually disappointed. Rise Against continue to develop their more accessible style prominent in Appeal To Reason while delving into new territories and exploring new ideas. While some tracks are lacking innovation, overall this album deserves a lot of praise and will continue to push them to uncanny heights. These songs will sound good in stadiums.
2. Help Is On The Way
3. Make It Stop (September’s Children)
4. Disparity By Design
6. Midnight Hands
7. Survivor Guilt
8. Broken Mirrors
9. Wait for Me
10. A Gentlemen’s Coup
11. This Is Letting Go