Rise Against
Appeal to Reason


4.5
superb

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
January 21st, 2009 | 511 replies | 17,912 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The same base punk rock aesthetic as always, just in a more melodic and slickly produced package to enhance accessibility. There is not a bad tune here and this album includes the song of 2008.

When a band releases what you believe is a near-perfect album, the anticipation for their following LP is indeed a strange feeling. One-part excitement and one-part nervousness, the underlying feeling is that of hope. Hope that the performers do not let you down… Hope that the artist is rewarded for their past brilliance… Hope that the album matches its predecessor. However, deep down, you know the chance of that final hope occurring is rather slim.

When the follow-up is finally released, human nature will mean that it is practically impossible not to make comparisons between the albums, thus increasing the chance of disappointment. However, as the weeks and months pass by, you realize that these are two separate pieces of work, deserving of being judged in isolation as much as the human mind will allow. When one acclimatizes to that notion, they could in fact realize that ‘Appeal To Reason’ – Rise Against’s fifth LP – is right up there with the very best collection of songs that the Chicago quartet have compiled.

Funnily enough, if comparing track by track, the opening few cuts here suggest that the impossible may indeed be pulled off. This is especially the case concerning the rollicking fast-paced opener ‘Collapse (Post-Amerika)’. Thrilling from the start, Rise Against continue to showcase their politically and environmentally conscious side with the opening lyrics of “When our rivers went dry and our crops ceased to grow”. Topped off nicely by an effectively simple chorus – “This is not a test, this is cardiac arrest” – and a fantastic multi-dimensional bridge where the guitars and bass really shine, the song lays a blueprint for strong later tracks ‘Kotov Syndrome’ and ‘Entertainment’, which include sufficient variation to distinguish themselves.

Another strength of the opener is the inclusion of what can be referred to as a memorable moment. With Rise Against, these often are strikingly hooky vocal passages with no background sound. That comes here with the line “When the air that we breathe becomes air that we choke”. However, this is bettered by the not too dissimilar sounding opening lyric of anthemic lead single ‘Re-Education (Through Labor)’, where lead vocalist Tim McIlrath adds some of his own trademark brand of harmony to the line “To the sound of a heartbeat pounding away”.

The most memorable moment on ‘Appeal To Reason’ however, may in fact last four minutes. In a back catalogue filled with highlight tracks, ‘Savior’ tops them all. Both mosh-worthy and danceable to, the relationship-based lyrics of this phenomenal rapid-fire cut hit the mark near-perfectly. While Rise Against have shown an ability to write effectively personal lyrics on multiple occasions in the past, ‘Savior’ sees absolutely everything come together perfectly to make for one hell of a song.

Elsewhere on ‘Appeal To Reason’, the lyrics will be less personal to listeners than on past releases. For the most part, the topics are situational rather than all-encompassing, meaning that tracks such as ‘The Strength To Go On’, ‘Audience Of One’ and ‘Whereabouts Unknown’ won’t quite have the same effect as ‘Survive’ did on their previous album. “Maybe we’ve outgrown all the things that we once loved” sings McIlrath on ‘Audience Of One’. Cynics will suggest that this may indeed be the case, but growth is one thing that is bound to occur naturally as a band’s career progresses.

Clearly the most divisive track here will be the acoustic anti-war piece ‘Hero Of War’. Approaching its subject from the viewpoint of a naïve youngster not understanding what they were getting themselves into upon entering the service, it sees the soldier falling victim to peer-group pressure while on assignment. The effective lay-person narration sees McIlrath occasionally cross the line in order to make his point and seek attention, but the piece well and truly achieves its purpose when all is said and done.

The other criticism which is bound to be aimed at ‘Appeal To Reason’ is its want to head towards mainstream mid-tempo numbers more often than previously. While this is indeed a valid comment, it is all relative to the band’s past. They are still far from tame here and include the same base punk rock aesthetic as always, just in a more melodic and slickly produced package to enhance accessibility. Even on targeted tracks such as ‘Long Forgotten Sons’, ‘The Dirt Whispered’, ‘From Heads Unworthy’, ‘The Strength To Go On’ and ‘Audience Of One’, Brandon Barnes still strikes the drums as if his life depended upon it, Joe Principe’s bass-lines are striking, Zach Blair’s guitar wails away and Tim McIlrath sings passionately.

Quiz 100 different people for their best five tracks on ‘Appeal To Reason’ and you may get 100 different answers. This is because there is not a bad tune here, simply less variety than usual. The proof of this album’s depth comes when looking for its weakest song (excluding the divisive ‘Hero Of War’). It could well be ‘Audience Of One’ which has just been announced as the 2nd single, confirming that every cut on ‘Appeal To Reason’ is worthy of being released individually. Couple that fact with this reviewer’s opinion that the album includes the song of 2008 in ‘Savior’, and the result is one hell of an album which will be under-rated by many due to its fantastic predecessor.

Recommended Tracks: Savior, Collapse (Post-Amerika), Hero Of War, Re-Education (Through Labor) & Kotov Syndrome.



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user ratings (1581)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Green Baron (2.5)
    An album with little appeal, little reasoning behind its lack of quality, and worst of all...

    Chris Davanzo (3)
    Rise Against spin out of control......

    JumpTheF**kUp (2.5)
    Musically identical to past works, but lacking the passion that set them above the rest of...

    Corey (4)
    Rise Against release yet another solid album and take a step in the right direction . They...

  • YeahBaby (4.5)
    Its great to know the future of punk rock lies in a band as dedicated to combining the ele...

    John weathered old reviewer Hanson STAFF (3.5)
    A generally great record, featuring some of the best songs Rise Against have written, with...

    Julio Babilonia (3.5)
    Appeal To Reason won’t redefine the genre, it won’t be a classic, it won’t be hailed...


Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

*** Fanboy Alert ***

rasputin
January 21st 2009



14504 Comments


Your review goes to show how differently this album was taken by old and new fans alike.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yep, fair comment Rasputin.
In truth, this was a 4 to me on the first few listens. But it (especially the tracks lower down on the quality pecking order) grew on me big time.

rasputin
January 21st 2009



14504 Comments


I was the opposite, started off at 3.5 but dropped it down.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Understandable, since I think it is fairly safe to suggest we are coming from the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to preferred musical tastes.

Actually, how would you rank Rise Against's 5 albums (or at least those you have heard)...???This Message Edited On 01.21.09

rasputin
January 21st 2009



14504 Comments


Well I love the band, I'm a huge fan of their earlier albums.

ninjuice
January 21st 2009



6758 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I will certainly disagree on Savior being their best song. Review is great, of course I don't think this is that good, and I'd probably lower my rating slightly if I didn't enjoy this so much.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 21st 2009



2708 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

lol 4.5
Do you own this/have you seen the packaging DaveyBoy? Because I mean, seriously, it's got so much psuedo-intellectual, pretentious bullshit that it made it hard for me to even begin to take this seriously.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Sorry rasputin, I edited in a question for you in my previous comment... Although, I guess you indirectly answered it with your last comment in a way. Just in case, rank away...
Hey Steve. I'll definitely hold my ground on 'Savior' obviously. I absolutely love that song. It is a huge comment, since I also love a track like 'Survive' so much. Which would you award that gong to...???
And good word using "enjoy", because I find this to be a very enjoyable listen.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Hi there fellow Kangas supporter Willy Wonka. Yes, I have seen and given a quick read to what you refer to in the liner notes/packaging. In a sense, I'm with you. Sometimes even their preachy lyrics can get over-bearing. BUT in no way do they bring songs down. And I simply ignore all the recommended readings & all that mumbo-jumbo. I will do the same at their March gig if they start up or there are pamphlets at the door. HOWEVER, the music is simply there to be judged on its own. My review is on the music.

rasputin
January 21st 2009



14504 Comments


Sorry rasputin, I edited in a question for you in my previous comment... Although, I guess you indirectly answered it with your last comment in a way. Just in case, rank away...

Sorry mate, I missed that.
Sufferer and the Witness
Siren Song of the Counter Culture
The Unravelling

I haven't heard Revolutions Per Minute yet, which I should.

rasputin
January 21st 2009



14504 Comments


and this would fit somewhere around the Unravelling

JumpTheF**kUp
January 21st 2009



2708 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Well I mean, when the music is as boring as it is here then the only hope I had left for some entertainment was in the liner notes and they were so terrible that I almost cried.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Oh ok, I am pleasantly surprised... When you sais "earlier albums" I presumed you meant the first 2. It sort of was why I asked you the question... Because 'Sufferer' is not an early album. I guess it just goes to show what such a great album can do; Bring together different tastes such as yours & mine.

You are a harsh man Mr. Wonka. This Message Edited On 01.21.09

rasputin
January 21st 2009



14504 Comments


well by earlier I meant all the ones before this, Revolutions per Minute is the only one I haven't heard.

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



17912 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

album is gay and should be stoned like a gay

AmericnZero02
January 21st 2009



3304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This record is stellar. Good review Davey! You pretty much nailed all of the points about this record that we previously discussed. Keep up the good work.

AtavanHalen
January 21st 2009



17927 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

The same base punk rock aesthetic as always, just in a more melodic and slickly produced package to enhance accessibility.

Herein lies the problem.

There is not a bad tune here and this album includes the song of 2008.

Yes there is. And the song of 2008 is nowhere to be seen.

withintention
January 21st 2009



297 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Decent review, and I really like this band, especially a year ago or so. But personally I feel like they do the same thing over and over again with slightly different lyrics. All of their stuff is solid though.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 21st 2009



20800 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Chan, you mention the word "gay" a lot... Not that there is anything wrong with that of course.
Thanks AmericnZero02. Your feedback is always appreciated mate.
Why is an album being slickly produced & more melodic a problem to you DavID. I know it's punk, but aren't bands like Fall Out Boy and Angels & Airwaves a brand of punk as well. Are you trying to tell me they aren't slickly produced & melodic as well? At least we know Rise Against can get the job done live!!! Have you heard Fall Out Boy Live In Phoenix? Ugh!
As for the song of 2008, well that's clearly personal opinion. If you listed yours, without me knowing what it was, I can automatically tell you that at least 97 out of every 100 people would disagree with you. Probably 100 out of 100.
withinintention, I actually believe that Rise Against simply performing a variation on the same theme is a valid argument. I was going to mention it in the review actually, but thought I would keep the review to this album in question. Like someone said in the Sound-Offs, I would look for them to change it up a little more on the next album as there are a lot of similarities in style between this & it's predecessor. BUT I feel that going back 2 albums, there is more than enough differences between this and 'Siren Song'. This is a lot more accessible.



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