Review Summary: While not by any stretch of the imagination "Rise Against's best effort" it is still a good album to pick up for a few quick listens. Their consistency still shows through and still should be considered worthy for fans of the band and the genre in gen
Rise Against has always struck me as one of the most consistently solid bands you can find. I don't think I've ever not enjoyed any album they've put out. While they've never changed their sound or really pushed any boundaries, they have a set style that seems to work perfectly for them and brings in their listeners well enough. They write very politically driven music geared very much to make the listen question their government and fight against the system. While you probably can't argue they're usually well written it does tend to come across as pretentious more often than not.
Endgame does alot of stuff that Appeal to Reason didn't get right. AtR was a decent album but it was also probably Rise Against's most "pop" sounding album, very few tracks had alot of power behind them and they mostly stayed with a catchy and upbeat sound, which was really noticeable on tracks such as "The Strength to Go on", "Kotov Syndrome" and Savior (probably the best song on the album though). Endgame for the most part however pulls away from the pop oriented sound and goes back into more crushing songs that have far more energy in them.
The first single off of the album "Help is on the Way" is a powerful and fast paced track written about the BP oil spill. It's a good track and probably one of the best choices to lead the album off of, but it also immediately shows Rise Against is 100% comfortable with their style and sound of music and that they feel they have no need to explore any other types of sound. Which like I said earlier, is fine considering it works for them. One thing that I liked about Endgame over the past 2 albums was that it sounds a little bit less produced and isnt afraid to be a bit harder and intense, although Sufferer and the Witness was arguably a better album just because practically all the songs on it were excellent.
For whatever reason the opening track "Architects" heavily reminds me of "Collapse-Post Amerika" in terms of lyrical influence and general feel, its a good opener but kinda loses it's energy once the line begins repeating of "Dont you remember when you were young and you wanted to set the world on fire". "Make it Stop" is a solid song with a great opening but is overall just a filler track without any major hooks. However the next 2 songs on the album are arguably the best as well. "Disparity by Design" immediately grabs you with a great guitar riff and shows the energy that Rise Against is capable of, it builds up excellently and has a great chorus and it's good to hear Tim using his screaming a bit more without having it overtake the entire song. "Satellites" however is easily the most infectious song on the album, which might be hypocritical of me to say considering it's arguably the most radio friendly pop sounding, it doesnt change the fact that it is very very fun. With more one liners in a song than any piece of music I've ever heard and a chorus that (at least to me) doesn't make alot of sense or at least a bit unconnected to the rest of the song. It is fast paced, upbeat, infectious and a great listen. Easily my favorite song off of the album.
The last half of the album seems to all kindof mesh together for me as it seems to be when the album becomes the most forgettable to me. Nothing really stands out as bad, but few songs stand out as great. "Midnight Hands" feels like pure filler and is entirely un-memorable. Survivor Guilt is a slight improvement in my mind but again it seems to just feel like another track that's there. "Broken Mirrors" and "Wait for Me" bring this up slightly, as they're the only 2 other songs on this album that immediately come to mind as slightly better than decent tracks...well at least other than Gentlemen's Coup. It's a relatively quick and powerful song, and while it doesnt bring the energy of some of the earlier tracks is still helps to pick up the album where it was starting to feel a bit meh and pulls you back in when you were starting to fade out. "This is letting go" pulls back out of this slight pickup and leave a pretty boring taste in your mouth, however despite all the albums flaws, "Endgame" without being an overly fantastic song sets a decent tone to leave the album off of. It does feel slightly weird however to have a Rise Against album without a characteristic "soft song" in following suit of songs such as "Swing Life Away", "Hero of War" and "Roadside".
Despite the failings and less than stellar album pacing, it's overall listenable and has a few good tracks to keep it in your stereo for at least a couple listen. To sum it up quickly:
Disparity by Design
Help is On the Way
Make it Stop