Review Summary: While it may not stand out among one of Rise Against’s best releases, it’s definitely another solid LP from the Chicago quartet.
When it comes to a band like Rise Against, it’s a pretty decisive split between those who enjoy their old sound versus their new sound. With every subsequent album released by the band, they move in a more mainstream direction. Appeal to Reason saw Tim McIllrath adopting a “nicer” vibe, leaving the screams of past albums for a much catchier, smooth-edged vocal delivery that was only hinted at previously. As the follow up to Rise Against’s most successful album, The Sufferer and the Witness, Appeal to Reason was seen as a bit of a disappointment to longtime fans. So with the release of Endgame, their new LP, the question was would Rise Against go back to their origins, or forge ahead in the realm of the mainstream?
Well, it’s been made pretty clear that no retracing of steps will be happening here. Throughout all of Endgame, McIllrath’s vocals are almost identical to that which laced its predecessors. It’s due to this that Endgame seems to be a lot of what we have already heard before. As with Sufferer and Appeal, the vocals are really the focal point of each song. The chorus lines are still very catchy, although maybe not as much as in Appeal, and tend to stick in your head for days after listening. Yet without the change of pace presented by McIllrath’s former delivery style, each song starts to blend together, leaving us without any clear distinction between them (although, there is a good bit more screaming here then there was on Appeal). This also causes some of the passion of previous releases to be lost, making some of the sentiments displayed in the lyrics seem less impactful.
That’s not to say Rise Against doesn’t mean everything they say. Each album they try to tackle some of the issues of the time, standing up to the man as it were. It’s through these avenues that Rise Against show that they aren’t giving in to the music industries demands. In “Desparity by Design”, they attack those who have received a hand up in life with really working for it, asking “Is this a handout undeserved or a just reparation?” Then in “Make it Stop (September’s Children)” they take a stand for the LGBT community by calling for an end to the hate based on sexual preference and (in a very emotionally powerful move) list off some of the names of young men who committed suicide due to the bullying.
Guitar work and drumming have remained a constant throughout the years for Rise Against. Both keep a fairly constant, frenetic pace throughout the album, which helps up the tempo and excitement that is lost through the slower, steadier vocals. Sometimes certain riffs come off as copies of previous ones, leaving us wondering if the idea train might be slowing down a bit, yet it’s not enough to detract from their infectious nature.
Rise Against’s Endgame may not be what older fans of the band are looking for, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad album. Song after song is well constructed to do exactly what Rise Against wants: call attention to something important in the world, and give us something to sing about along the way. While it may not stand out among one of Rise’s best releases, it’s definitely another solid one from the quartet that leaves us with enough good material to merit a few occasional spins in the stereo.