Rise Against
The Unraveling


3.5
great

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
March 26th, 2009 | 147 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Newer fans that have been won over by Rise Against’s recent more polished releases need not fear, as this is a surprisingly accomplished debut that contains all of the band’s trademark strengths.

It took a long while for me to give Rise Against’s 2001 debut LP ‘The Unraveling’ a listen. Prior to the release of 4th album ‘The Sufferer & The Witness’ in 2006, if you had told me that this punk / melodic hardcore band would soon become one of my favorites, I would have wondered what drugs you were on. But so it was to be with the phenomenal ‘Sufferer…” sandwiched between two other excellent releases. I was hesitant to listen to ‘The Unraveling’ fearing it would be a raw inaccessible mess. What on earth was I thinking? This is Rise Against, ever as reliable and impressive as they obviously always have been!

Practically all of the ingredients that have made the Chicago quartet such an awesome force can be heard on album opener ‘Alive and Well’. Following the apt opening of Jack Black (from movie ‘The Cable Guy’) asking “Are you ready to rawk?”, a frenetic pace sets in that displays all of the band’s musical trademarks; excellent guitar-work from Dan Wleklinski, Joe Principe’s always terrific bass-lines and Brandon Barnes’ passionate drumming. And then of course there are Tim McIlrath’s vocals, which switch from throaty screams in the verses to deceptive melodies during the chorus.

The opening four tracks of ‘The Unraveling’ are not only impressive songs individually, but also effectively showcase the range that is to follow on this 40 minute album. ‘My Life Inside Your Heart’ may be the most accessible of the tracks with its “Take my hand…” refrain delivering on multiple levels. Follow-up ‘Great Awakening’ is then a hardcore piece belted out at a frantic pace, while track 4 ‘Six Ways Til Sunday’ brings the punk with its long closing outro of gang chants.

Suggesting that the LP “settles down” during its mid-section is not exactly the most fitting and accurate description, but in a sense that is what it does as it alternates between sub 2 minute hardcore thrashers and slightly longer conventional sounding cuts (relatively speaking, of course). Most of these contain something or other to like about them and there is nothing anywhere near bad, however these tracks are arguably better in the moment, rather than being memorable.

And then, as with later Rise Against releases, a song emerges from seemingly nowhere to knock you off your feet with its lyrical maturity and songwriting craftsmanship. The Unraveling’s said piece is track 11 ‘Everchanging’, a cut which begins with sparse background music to allow McIlrath’s suitably emotional voice to hit a bullseye. His vocals are near-perfect here as his rasp contains an apt quiver as he proclaims “Have you ever been a part of something that you thought would never end?”, before matter of factly following up with “And then of course it does”. The outro is just as on the mark as McIlrath repeats the line “Something has kept me here too long and you can’t leave me if I’m already gone” as if he is attempting to convince himself to end a relationship.

The album then keeps up the momentum to the very end, as following two melodic hardcore cuts that total a little over two minutes between them, the very good ‘1000 Good Intentions’ makes its presence felt. In a sense, this is the track which most gave listeners a glimpse of Rise Against’s future, since it contains many base punk traits, yet also showcases a more hooky mainstream rock sound that really is the best of both worlds. ‘Weight of Time’ and ‘Faint Resemblance’ then close the LP suitably as a nice summation of everything that has come before them.

What was I thinking indeed? Newer fans that have been won over by Rise Against’s most recent and more polished releases need not fear, as ‘The Unraveling’ is a surprisingly accomplished work that contains all of the band’s trademark strengths. While the songs are a little rawer and arguably harder hitting, the melody, passion and thought-provoking lyrics are all still there and accounted for, making for an excellent listen from beginning to end.

Recommended Tracks: Everchanging, 1000 Good Intentions, My Life Inside Your Heart & Alive and Well.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Timely review... Since I'll be seeing these guys live for the first time in approximately 30 hours time! Can't wait!

Zippermouth2
March 26th 2009


33 Comments


Why is it that debut albums always have a ridiculous number of tracks?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Usually it is because the bands have stockpiled songs over more than 3-4 years and are able to include the best of previous EPs and/or demos. But remember that Rise Against are pretty much a punk band and when some (7 in this case) tracks don't break the 2 minute barrier, then I guess it is required to have 15+ tracks to some degree.

Zippermouth2
March 26th 2009


33 Comments


I can't get into something like that. I'd rather have one seven minute song than 7 one minute songs.

It just seems like all these new bands are trying to force a whole lot of material down your throat the second they come into existence.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


17231 Comments


everchanging is beastly



DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm with you Zipper... Usually I don't like shorter songs either. But just remember that this album was made in 2001 & Rise Against really don't record many sub 2 minute songs anymore.

Too right rsfm. 'Everchanging' is great... & a forerunner for my best song of 2008; 'Savior'. They have a few things in common lyrically, that's for certain.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


17231 Comments


I still havent gotten around to "Appeal to Reason" due to my dislike of reEducation Through Labor. I should probably give it a go.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, do it. If you didn't like 'Re-Education...', then chances are you won't like it anywhere near as much as 'Sufferer', but it's worth giving the album a listen since it (a) is even & (b) contains the greatness that is 'Savior'.

Fugue
March 26th 2009


7354 Comments


Nice review Davey :-). I have still only heard TSATW and half of Appeal to Reason from these guys.

AtavanHalen
March 26th 2009


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Six Ways Til Sunday is amazing.
Everchanging sounds gorgeous done acoustically.
Best RA has to be Siren Song, no question.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Ross. As DavID would attest, 'Siren Song' is definitely worth a listen at the very least. But this album also surprised me.

Hello stranger... What you been up to Mr Halen?

Yeah, I like 'Six Ways...' but more for its closing than the enture song. I totally agree that 'Everchanging' is fantastic acoustically. In a sense, it should have been done acoustically from the beginning, but I guess Rise Against were not quite confident enough to pull that off back in 2001.

As for their best album, I know you are just sucking me into one of your infamous debates DavID. Their live setlist says it all; 8 of the 13 tracks on 'The Sufferer & The Witness' get a run! Since 'Roadside' & 'The Approaching Curve' would be tough to pull off live, it's basically 8 from 11! That is quite a feat.

Fugue
March 26th 2009


7354 Comments


Siren song would be an album yes?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hehehe. Yes, their 3rd album is titled 'Siren Song of the Counter Culture'. It was the album which basically saw them break out and earn a much larger fanbase... Mostly on the back of acoustic song 'Swing Life Away'.

24 hours & counting!

Fugue
March 26th 2009


7354 Comments


Haha OK fair enough, I'll probably see if my mate has it (he will) and have a listen there.

Douchebag
March 26th 2009


3624 Comments


Your first paragraphy has convinced me to hear this. I was in a similar boat thinking that the old stuff may be too raw and bad. I love Siren song, sufferer and appeal to should I hear this one next or the one that followed?

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That was exactly my intention with that first paragraph Croc. I very rarely use words like "i" & "me" in my reviews. When I do, it is for a reason and I very much thought it was worthy in this case.

With regards to the ordering of Rise Against albums to listen to, I'd actually do what I did & go back and listen to this first and then Revolutions Per Minute (which I will review early next week).

gaslightanthem
March 26th 2009


5209 Comments


zipper you need to listen to more hardcore

gaslightanthem
March 26th 2009


5209 Comments


oh & good review davey

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
March 26th 2009


20858 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Kane. Good to see you back under this user-name once more. I don't like it when you go all metal on me.

Speaking of multiple user-names, is zippermouth2 the same person as zippermouth?

gaslightanthem
March 26th 2009


5209 Comments


Was banned for 5 days so I haven't been able to. Have been using itchyandscratchy who was more psychedelic and blues than metal haha ;-)

And idk I'm assuming so if not oh well my comment still stands.



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