Review Summary: The best bits of Appeal to Reason mixed with the Rise Against you fell in love with.
Appeal to Reason was not a bad album. In fact by most standards it was a very good album. It had radio-friendly hits like ‘Saviour’, political messages like ‘Re-Education’ and erm… ‘Hero of War’. Appeal to Reasons problem was its predecessors. All 3 of them are on pedestals so high that other albums look like ants, and rightly so. Every Rise Against fan has a different favourite and many just can’t decide on one. It was only a matter of time before Rise Against found an average gear and made an album that didn’t live up to the others. Appeal to Reason was that album and is undoubtedly the one that Endgame was going to be compared to the most.
So is Endgame the album you want it to be? Will it make you look back fondly at Appeal to Reason as that blip they had or as the album where it all started to go wrong? Are we going to have to start building another huge pedestal? Well you can exhale. It is better than Appeal to Reason. Rise Against aren’t going through the motions anymore.
‘Make it Stop (Septembers Children)’, a song about homosexual teenagers who have ended their lives over bullying, leaves you with that chilling feeling that ‘Hero of War’ was so obviously going for but this time succeeds. On the surface it’s all “woah”’s and chorus but the lyrics are some of the best the band have ever written. The part that stays with you though is at the end, where Tim McIlrath reads out the names and ages of those that the song was written for.Another stand out track and soon to be live favourite is ‘This Is Letting Go’. You could call it this albums ‘Saviour’/’Re-education’/’Prayer of the Refugee’ although only in reputation more than because of how it actually sounds. It boasts the most infectious chorus that isn’t infuriatingly samey (looking at you, ‘Help is on the Way’) and is likely to be the song winning over new fans.
‘Survivor Guilt’, ‘Broken Mirrors’ and ‘Disparity by Design’ have more than a shadow of Rise Against of old, with their solid drumming, screams and chorus that will be on your mind for days. Rise Against’s ace has always been the bridge. While the chorus is catchy, their bridges are the parts that get you. This is true of many of the tracks but none more so than lead single ‘Help is on the Way’. Despite being repetitive to annoyance you can forgive it because of the guitar riff in the bridge.
Endgame isn’t a return to ‘old’ Rise Against though. It’s the step forward that Appeal to Reason should’ve been. Their sound has evolved in a positive way. The tempo of the whole album is slower than previous ones but this has allowed them to experiment, like in ‘Midnight Hands’, with its dirty sounding guitar and vocals, and ‘Broken Mirrors’ intro riff, that is almost a nod to Pantera’s ‘Walk’. It has also allowed them to veer s close to middle-of-the-road as they could probably go successfully with ‘Wait for Me’. While most Revolutions per Minute fans will scoff that a slower tempo could lead to anything but disaster it really does work for them. It’s not commercial or glossy; it’s just not at breakneck speed.
So is Endgame the album you wanted? Well if you wanted Revolutions per Minute, Siren Song of the Counter Culture or The Sufferer and the Witness then no. You already have those albums, why would you want another copy? Endgame is its own album. There’s only a couple of weak points and the rest of the album is angry, heavy in parts and definitely grows on you the more listens you give it. Press play praying too hear the opening drums to ‘Chamber the Cartridge’ or the roar of ‘State of the Union’ then you’ve put the wrong CD in the player. Press play with an open mind and you will not be disappointed.