Review Summary: Rise Against spin out of control...
“Siren Song Of The Counter Culture” launched the Chicago natives Rise Against into the center fold of the punk rock scene. “The Sufferer & The Witness” initiated the bands rise to the mainstream. What does “Appeal To Reason," Rise Against’s fifth studio album, do? Absolutely nothing…
The greatest knock against "Appeal to Reason" is the lack of diversity within the songs. For a large portion of the album, Rise Against sticks to the same type of sound that gained them critical acclaim from Siren Song Of The Counter Culture and The Sufferer and the Witness. However, this formula starts to get old.
A minimal amount of tracks stand out from the rest. There are just too many “standard” Rise Against tracks that hardly make any of them identifiable amongst the others. The intros of “Collapse (Post-Amerika)” and “Long Forgotten Sons” sound extremely similar, and these are the very first two songs on the album. The choruses of “From Heads Unworthy” and “The Strength To Go On” also fall into the same trap. If not for Tim McIlrath’s vocals, the two songs might actually be mistakened to be the same. Are the songs catchy? Yes. But so is typical material heard on the radio. There’s no “State Of The Union” on here.
Rise Against also fails to stray away from its political views and this type of identity bogs down their progression as a band. Their anti-war protests do not have the same energy that made “Siren Song Of The Counter Culture” so compelling. It’s understood: Rise Against is a very political band. But it would not hurt to craft songs that deal with other themes that compliment the anti-war objections instead of constantly writing politically-dominated albums.
“Appeal To Reason” is not without its moments of "appeal." “Savior” almost rescues the album by itself by actually delving into the theme of love, and a sad love at that. The chorus is a strong reminder that the band can still be passionate about its music, even if it not reflected throughout the entire record.
“Hero Of War,” however, is arguably the standout track on the entire album. Some may completely criticize the song for some appalling lyrics during parts of the track while others may praise it as a great song for the emotional pull other lyrics might provide. While the song does have some terrible moments, such as the vulgar moment where the soldiers capture the man and beat him, etc., this song is a powerful track that weaves several episodes about American soldiers in times of war. The two verses that link the soldier firing on the “enemy” woman carrying a white flag is one of the most riveting moments on the entire album.
“Appeal To Reason” is not an accomplishment by Rise Against. Sadly, they take a step backwards. In yet another attempt to produce protest hits, this once hard-hitting, tooth-and-nail punk rock band seems to have lost its way. Sure, Rise Against may still be the band that fans fell in love with years ago. But how long will fans be willing to listen to the same tunes and sounds over and over again before they lose that love?
Hero Of War
Re-Education (Through Labor)