Review Summary: Rise Against release yet another solid album and take a step in the right direction . They still need to take one more step from solidifying their place in punk rock history.
Rise Against have made a huge name for themselves in both the mainstream and the underground music scenes ever since their debut. They are considered one of the most successful punk bands of the new millennium with their sophomore album, Revolutions Per Minute
regarded as a classic among many punk fans. Most of the band's mainstream success came from their last two albums, Siren Song of the Counter Culture
and The Sufferer & The Witness
. One thing certain is that every album they released has been solid and they look to continue this streak with their fifth studio album, Appeal To Reason
. Rise Against's sound has been increasingly melodic with each release and this album is no different, their sound is heavily influenced by 90's-era Bad Religion rather than most of their hardcore influences resulting in the band's sound being catchy as ever.
Appeal To Reason's
overall sound is very similar to The Sufferer & The Witness
with very melodic punk songs powered by fast verses, ear-grabbing choruses, fantastic melodies and politically conscious lyrics. A few things have been tweaked a bit, one being that this is a very vocal-heavy record. Singer/guitarist Tim McIlrath's vocals stand out a lot more than they did in the past. His voice seems to be the main focus of this record, as his singing soars right through all of the other instruments, which is what makes Rise Against stand out among other punk bands. His singing has also become much more melodic on this record, for the better. The rhythm section is as tight as ever, most notably bassist, Joe Principe as he provides some excellent bass lines. New guitarist, Zach Blair also provides some nice leads and riffs, filling the hole that former guitarist Chris Chasse left. Drummer Brandon Barnes also does a solid job behind the kit, as always. The production of this album is also great as producer Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) shows why he is one of the best producers in the industry.
The strongest songs on this album are the faster ones, which can be described combination of the fan-favorite Revolutions Per Minute
and their last album, The Sufferer & The Witness
. The faster songs combine the aggression and energy of RPM while combining it with the melody and catchiness of Sufferer
, with more emphasis on the latter album. Perfect examples are the album's opener, "Collapse (Post-Amerika)" and "Kotov Syndrome." The latter features one of the best breakdowns/bridges the band have ever done, complimented by a wonderful lead by Blair and McIlarth's cries of "Set us free!" Some of the poppy songs are gems as well, most notably the brilliant "The Dirt Whispered" and the addictive "Savior." Both songs are more up-tempo than the rest of the album and have different qualities which make them stand out, "The Dirt Whispered" being ridiculously catchy and "Savior" having wonderful gang vocals at the end of the chorus and a driving melody. "Hairline Fracture" is another fast-paced song which really stands out with the aid of great backing vocals in the chorus.
A few songs in the middle of the record is where Rise Against begins to stumble a bit, they all are good songs but they lack the punch that all of the stand out tracks have. "From Heads Unworthy" is the strongest out of them, thanks to McIlarth having some great vocal lines in the bridge where his voice sounds better than ever. "The Strength To Go One" is a little too bland and "Audience of One" sounds like it could be a mainstream radio hit, but there's nothing stellar about this track aside from some of the lyrics. "Entertainment" picks up the pace a bit and features and odd circus-style breakdown which sounds out of place. The biggest question mark comes on the acoustic protest song, "Hero Of War." This song can either be considered epic or terrible depending on how you look at it.. Some of the lyrics are cringe-worthy and the cliché concept of someone enlisting to join the army and face all of the hardships of war has been done many times before. Thankfully, it's followed by the fore-mentioned, "Savior" which carries out the rest of the record nicely except the closer, "Whereabouts Unknown" sounds like it could have been so much more, but it's still a solid finish to the record.
Rise Against maintains their streak of releasing one solid album after another with Appeal To Reason
. The band might be criticized for being more "accessible" now but it's been that way ever since Siren Song of the Counter Culture
was released so that claim isn't new. Being accessible isn't necessarily a bad thing for some punk bands. Some of Bad Religion’s best records came from their more accessible years. Appeal To Reason
is far from being Rise Against's best work but it does have some of their best songs and it is a very enjoyable record. Many fans of the band may see themselves listening to it frequently in years to come.
Favorite Tracks: The Dirt Whispered, Collapse (Post-Amerika), Kotov Syndrome, Savior