Rise Against and me, that was no love on first sight. When I first heard them, I liked some songs (like "Life less frightening" as an example), but overall they did not really appeal to me. That was until a friend gave this album to me (in it's original recorded version). This album was able to keep my attention and steer me towards their other work as well. Which lead to the current state, Rise Against being one of my most played bands currently.
Something 'The Unraveling' seriously lacked compared to the other albums was the drive behind it. Not song-wise, but rather from sound-quality. Some songs sounded hollow, not as punchy as the newer ones did. This is something the band noticed as well, and decided to give this one an overhaul. So here we are: a remastered and re-issued new release of the debut "The Unraveling". To sweeten up the fact that we are expected to pay for a CD we might already posses, there are two more songs on this one (possibly B-Sides of that time) than on the original release.
So basically, this is the same as the release from 2001? Yes, basically it is. The biggest change is that the sound and production of the songs is not that 'underground' so to say. I can not think of any other word for it right now. Well, this can be looked at from two sides of course. There are people out there that like this sound better, I'm sure. Not as 'bloated', a bit rougher maybe. Something that fits a Hardcore band better. Or maybe just to show the progression of the band and it's sound. I confess, I'm not one of those though. Songs with bad production give me headaches, literally. If the mix is bad, cymbals for example too loud, I get a headache from listenening to it a lot. Which kinda lowers the pleasing expirience of otherwise good music. So I was pleased by the pimped up production. It is comparable to the one on "Siren Song of the Counter Culture". Solid and really fitting for the music the band plays. If you liked this album before, chances are you might like it even more now with the better sound.
Let's not just pin this one down with the sound quality, as that is not all that matters. The songs are overall quite fast paced. Of the 18 songs present here are seven with a playtime of under two minutes, only five break the three minute barrier. This is not a bad thing, as the songs are a lot of fun. This quite large number of songs makes the album appear a bit too long sometimes. The two bonus songs add to this. Sometimes I tend to skip some tracks as it all seems too long. Which is sad, as the material is solid. Sure, the band showed that they can do even better with their follow-up records. But for a debut LP this is really rock solid work. The drumming ranges from fast punk-like work ('Alive and Well', 'Stained Glass and Marble') to more accentual and detailed support for slower songs ('The Unraveling', '1000 Good Intentions'). We have not the uber-standout guitar work, question is if that would fit here. The stuff played fits perfectly in my book, and shows more potential than other more Pop-like Punk bands show. Nice leads, or a more solo-like performance ('The Unraveling') are great here. The bass underlines all this, with suiting lines that leave room for little fills and variations here and there. What is quite present here is the use of bass chords, I guess this is because the singer did not play 2nd guitar here. Not 100% sure about it though. Speaking of the vocals, the base for todays Rise Against vocal lines are present, though Tims voice has clearly developed since the early days. Solid screams, good clear vocals, all flavoured with backup vocals here and there, good stuff.
Is it all bright and shiny then? Ehm, no. To be honest, some songs feel and sound a hit out of place here and there, as if would have been better of at another spot of the track list. One example comes early. 'Great Awakening' feels a bit strange after 'My life inside your heart'. Then again, 'Six ways 'til sunday' with it's happy tone and all feels weird after the quite rough and hard 'Great awakening'. This could have been done better. Sure, it would be strange to re-issue an album and completely overhaul the track list. So the blame lies back in 01. Still it kinda spoils it for me. At least a bit. And like I already mentioned, the record seems a bit long now and then and stretches a bit too much. The addition of the two bonus songs is a nice gesture, they feel a bit out of place though. You just notice that 'Faint Resemblence' was intended to be the end of the album. And with a lot of songs behind you, you might think "Darn, when is it over already?". On their own, the songs are good. And worth listening. The quality differs though, especially on "Gethsemane".
Should you buy this re-release? That depends. If you do not know this record, but like their other work, this is a good opportunity to see whith what songs they started out on their first LP. Without a major shock because of sound quality that lacks... ;-) The songs are good, and worth a listen if you like the band, that's for sure. Even with the cons taken into consideration, it stays worth a buy for a Rise Against fan so to say. If you already own the album... the thing is not as clear. The only change is sound quality. If you're happy with the sound of your original copy, this is not really worth it. Not for the two bonus songs on here. They are good, but not worth the buy alone. If you always thought "Man, 'The Unraveling' could use some of the production quality of the newer albums. It would really make it better", this is your cup of tea though. The quality really improved and justifies the re-issue and re-release. Before you re-buy it, I would suggest to check out some of the songs beforehand if you get the chance. That way, you can judge it better.
i never had a problem with the tracklist, and next to some of the old grindcore albums in my collection, the production sounds positively superb. dont think i'll buy the reissue, since ive got the bonus tracks on compilations, but good CD all the same, and equally good review!
Excellent review, and wouldn't be able to list any cons about it if I tried. I'll look into this when I get the chance. For my 2nd Rise Against album (experience.)
Strike Anywhere? I'll look into that.
Nope, not really. If you want to check out songs from their albums, I would suggest the following:
The Unraveling: 1000 good intensions, Stained glass and marble
Revelutions per Minute: Black Masks and Gasoline, Broken English
Siren Song of the Counter Culture: Give it all, Swing Life away, Blood to bleed
The Sufferer & The whitness: Ready to Fall, Bricks, Survive
I think those songs give a first impression what Rise Against are like.
I agree with you Damrod those are some of their best work but for revolutions per minute I have to say Like The Angels is another great track, imo the best on the album, but thats prolly cuz it was the first song of thiers I ever heard, kinda sentimental
If you like Rise Against, chances are that you will like Strike Anywhere as well. You might want to check those guys out. Great band
Thanks for this reference Damrod, because of this small post from you, I recently went out and bought Strike Anywhere "ExitEnglish." I know this has nothing to do with Rise Against.... so ill just say that Rise Against is highly addictive