Review Summary: With 'The Sufferer and the Witness' Rise Against slowly begin to move away from their original hardcore punk label, yet they do it in style.
In many cases,the new wave of pop-punk is a rather dull, uninspired, mainstream style of music that is rendered abhorrent by many critiques. It’s not often you could find a band, even an album that holds a high amount of respect within the music industry under the new label of 'punk' yet Rise Against have done it. But what makes them so much different from the rest; from the average Good Charlotte
or Fallout Boy
? Raw energy, emotion, frantic chord progressions and emphatic singing all compile together to create a successful band. Rise Against maintain all of these quality characteristics, and they pass it through onto their fourth studio album, Sufferer and the Witness
. With this record, Rise Against move slightly away from their original hard-core punk roots, yet nonetheless they syndicate their old style with their new to construct a very efficacious album.
What made Revolutions Per Minute
and Siren Song
so good, and so unique, was Tim McIlrath’s vocal efforts. His combination of clean, harsh and growled vocals fused together exquisitely. Tim’s exertions on this record are no exception, no matter how different to the brilliance that occurred on Rise Against’s earlier releases. This time around, his singing has become much easier to listen to, much radio-friendlier. Although the over-production of his naturally talented voice is at times cringe-worthy (best represented in “Under the Knife”) his original flair is sustained and preserved. On multiple occasions he elects to bark out screamed vocals, yet on this record they sound much more tried and practiced. During the breakdown on “Injection” listeners are provided with a brilliant train of singing and musicianship. When Tim belts out: ”Guide me/Through uncharted waters
is where Rise Against are at their pivotal best. The lyrics, as anticipated, were brilliant, and they touched briefly yet sharply on political and environmental dangers that we all face. The usage of metaphors was another common theme that Rise Against used. To a mere new-comer who lacked experience with cryptic lyrics, the song The Good Left Undone
would resemble a lyrical mess about flowers, and the listener would instantly assume Rise Against were retarded. However, if you look and ponder deeply at the lyrics of the track: I wrapped a hand around it’s stem/pulled until the roots gave in/ finding there what I’ve been missing
you would find that this song is in fact about a broken relationship. Although the ideology behind some of their songs would strike depressed teenagers as attractive, Rise Against do it in such a sweet and subtle way that this theme merely adds to the overall atmosphere created by Tim McIlrath’s energetic vocals.
As you would find in most punk bands, the guitar work is nothing extraordinary. That being said, it gets its job done. Chris Chasse and Tim McIlrath form a formidable guitar duet, and their overlaying usages of power chords often complement each other very well. The guitar tone, which was rather messy in Sufferer and the Witness
’s predecessors, has been cleaned up and for the better. In RPM
’s verses, you would habitually find frantically strummed chord progressions which supplemented the singing in every way possible. This record lacks this accompaniment, and merely contains a frequenting bass-line with a few guitar notes here and there. Although this helps build an atmosphere for the -as-a-rule- catchy choruses, these verses are a step backwards from what was traditionally an urgent, briskly played rephrase. Beguiling choruses ensue these rather lacklustre verses, and all mutiny towards the band is lost when the musicianship reaches its climax during the chorus. “Behind Closed Doors” and “Worth Dying For,” withhold brilliant pieces of work during the pinnacle of the track.
The bass-work by Joe Principe is once again out-standing. The bass is heard more than ever throughout this album, which really helps move some of the sluggish songs along, such as “The Approaching Curve.”
Rise Against attempt a ballad in Sufferer and the Witness
going by the name of “Roadside”. Compared to the sheer brilliance and emotion hidden within Rise Against’s hit “Swing Life Away,” “Roadside,” is uninventive, bland and lacks a punch. Rise Against endeavoured to find this kick by adding a cello solo, and a woman vocalist, yet these additions purely make the track drag on for even longer than necessary.
Rise Against may have lost some of the innovative energy and vigour that was seen in their early days, but it was replaced by the next best thing; vivid vocals, out-standing choruses and superb bass technique and skill. Sufferer and the Witness
is an album all music-lovers need to lay their hands upon.
The Good Left Undone
Behind Closed Doors
Worth Dying For