Review Summary: Rehashed, boring.
Rise Against is a band that I’ve always respected. They consistently released some great albums, each release with some iconic songs that all the fans know and love. Not only have they been known to write some damn good music, but they are also known to be activists. Whether you agree with their views or not, you have to admit that they at least deserve respect because they’re doing something, fighting for their beliefs while most of the population is too apathetic or lazy to fight for what they believe in. While I still have a great deal of respect for the band, I cannot help but be disappointed after listening to Endgame. By no means do I think the band has sold out or doubt their sincerity, but it sounds like they have musically run out of ideas.
Taking a look at their back catalog, their songs had plenty of passion, clever lyrics, and energy. Endgame falls flat on these things, being mostly a rehashed version of Appeal to Reason (with small attempts at incorporating a little of their old sound). There were many moments when I was listening to it and thought, “I swear I’ve heard that same riff/vocal line before.” I hate to be one of “those” people, but some of the choruses on this album sound ridiculously radio friendly and cringe-inducing. Not only that, but most of the songs are just plain boring and seem uninspired. Much of the energy from past albums is gone and the songwriting sometimes sounds lazy. Help is On the Way is a prime example of all of these things.
Despite all of this, I commend them on the fact that they kept their controversial lyrical topics and didn’t sugar them up to make it more accessible. Make It Stop (September’s Children) is a good example of this. As you probably already know by now, it’s about young men who committed suicide because of bullies tormenting them because of their sexuality. Even though I thought the song as a whole was just ok, the topic was quite thought provoking and McIlrath reading off the names of those people was a powerful thing. There are some decent songs on this release: Disparity by Design, Satellite, and Survivor Guilt are easily the highlights.
After a streak of four solid releases they finally released a dud. Most bands can’t go more than two albums without releasing a less than phenomenal album, so in that sense this band still deserves a lot of praise. All they need to do is find that old spark (even Appeal to Reason had some of this) that made them so great in the first place.