Review Summary: 'Endgame' is solid, yet unimpressive.
Since releasing ‘The Sufferer and The Witness’, Rise Against molded their albums into a more accessible sound combined with the powerful themes they so frequently implement on their songs. ‘Appeal to Reason’ was the exclamation point on this new direction, as it featured some of the most radio-friendly tracks they’ve ever created. With ‘Endgame’, the band kept the accessible path, producing a solid collection of songs, but for the first time, released an album that seems rehashed at times.
‘Endgame’ certainly feels recycled at times. While maintaining a certain level of quality on the songs and always looking to keep the diversity on the themes of their lyrics, Rise Against occasionally gives the impression of lacking inspiration on their melodies. For example, the lead single ‘Help Is On The Way’ and the subsequent ‘Make It Stop’ are both examples of competent tracks musically-wise that, however, could easily be included on their predecessor ‘Appeal to Reason’, along with songs like ‘Re-Education’ or ‘Audience of One’. Also, the band is trying those slow parts, which one may or may not consider a bridge, a little too much. Here is a list of the songs on which you will listen one of those parts: ‘Architects’, ‘Help Is On The Way’, ‘Disparity By Design’, ‘Satellite’, ’Midnight Hands’, ‘Survivor Guilt’, ‘Gentleman’s Coup’ and ‘Endgame’. Fair to say there is a bit of recurrence on the songs’ structures. In fact, there isn’t a try to fresh things up a bit, not even something that indicates some sense of innovation as, arguably, nothing here is impossible to find in the band’s past releases.
Nevertheless, we still find songs like ‘Architects’, ‘Survivor Guilt’ and ‘Endgame’ combining the raw nature of the band with the relative accessibility that made ‘The Sufferer and the Witness’ such a great album, and that are undoubtedly highlights on this album. McIlrath’s voice is as strong as always and fits especially on more aggressive tunes ‘Midnight Hands’, ‘Broken Mirrors’ and ‘A Gentleman’s Coup’. The band is still playing at its best, delivering powerful riffs, doing good instrumental parts and revealing great global harmony, even if, then again, there is nothing too new to be found here. Their lyrics are something to be emphasized, since they not only cover promising themes like suicide at adolescence due to prejudice or natural disasters, but also can create nice sentences like “Don't you remember when you were young,
And you wanted to set the world on fire?” (‘Architects’) or “We are the orphans of the American Dream” (‘Satellite’). Many others could be mentioned. In general, lyrics tend to touch awareness topics.
‘Endgame’ is unquestionably a consistent album, maybe a consolidation of Rise Against’s works until now. They continue to make nearly flawless music and, in some parts of the album, they don’t fail to impress. The path Rise Against is trying to walk is questionable though. Will this band continue to pray to survive? Will they be able to continue to produce good quality songs even sustaining a radio-friendly sound, while skipping to their musical roots?