Rise Against
Wolves


2.2
poor

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
June 9th, 2017 | 168 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lost out, beat u- wait, no, nevermind.

I first heard "Swing Life Away" when I was 10 or 11, I think. It was a cheesy ballad from that band who usually rocked out, those guys who did "Prayer of the Refugee"; the kind of song I'd scoff at and brush off around my friends but secretly enjoy late at night, devouring it like a bar of chocolate under my sheets. It's always the songs you least expect that stay with you far longer than they should, attaching themselves to you as firmly as a brand. You can no more escape them than a character in a movie can escape the soundtrack to their scenes, and god knows the writer for my life really had a thing for "Swing Life Away". But it was okay – the charmingly, disarmingly honest song works wonders with its straightforward, ditty-like nature. Even the inescapable this is a ballad, guys, did you notice that we wrote a ballad? nature doesn't bother me, coming as it does before Rise Against's finest song and most fiery statement of purpose, "Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated". Tim feels every fucking last word on "Swing Life Away" as he sings them out, and I do my part and I believe them all as I sing along. Am I loud and clear, or am I breakin' up?

I first heard Wolves a few days ago. As the latest rung on an increasingly shaky and unstable ladder, I was less than eager to put myself through it, budget Nine Inch Nails artwork and all. In theory, a year as politically shaky as 2017 is the perfect time for a Rise Against album, and its release coinciding with the Comey inquiry seems like a particularly fortuitous bit of luck that might just create the illusion of relevance or meaning. The thing is, though, if you'll permit me to borrow the buzzword-iest of Shakespeare lines; Wolves is a whole bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Tim is angry about some stuff, to be sure, but he's angry about so many badly defined things he ends up running out of things to say and just sort of vaguely gesturing at said things to his left and right – look at how bad this is, and oh, have you seen the state of this? Dear me, just awful, like an entitled soccer mum at a game where her beloved son has lost. "I'm sorry to say, but this is bullshit" he actually repeats over and over at one point like a mantra, sounding like your garden-variety opinionated hack screaming into the digital void. "There must something in the water, yeah there's something in the air!", like Joel McHale's character in the X-Files revival. Even at their most lyrically obtuse, Siren Song of the Counter Culture and The Sufferer and the Witness always had that echo of truth at their heart: songs with names like "Drones" and "State of the Union" were always offset by something heartfelt and genuine, unasked for but freely given. Moments like "Paper Wings" and "The Good Left Undone" and, you guessed it, "Swing Life Away"; little reminders that every political activist and vigilante has a reason to be so angry, something precious to defend. But hey, if in 2017 you're in the mood for a completely inane outline of a thought that somehow makes up a chorus, you're in for a real treat when "Far From Perfect" busts out the generation-defining "we are far from perfect, but perfect as we are!!!"

It doesn't help that the music in general is so stubbornly tepid. Sure, overall it's a step up from The Black Market, but there's nothing here that gives the hope of Rise Against vaguely recalling what they used to be good at like "People Live Here" did. From the band that wrote "The Dirt Whispered" and "Life Less Frightening", it's straight up depressing how lukewarm and flaccid literally every chorus on this album is, like the chords and melodies were composed in a windowless, sterile room by a semi-sentient Tim McIlrath clone. "Welcome to the Breakdown" and "Miracle" make a nice trilogy with "The Eco-Terrorist in Me" by giving a very decent, almost convincing impersonation of the Rise Against that actually cared, and all three are just angry enough to pass as a paper mache 'we're punk again!' likeness for the desperate few. Okay, so Wolves has energy, some passion, and what can just about occasionally pass for a punk attitude. But that's not what was missing, and it never was. It was never Tim's increasingly weak screams (Sufferer had a total of two songs with screaming, for reference), or the anti-government calls to arms, or the admittedly much-mourned tempo changes that would happen just for the sake of it. What's missing here, what's been missing for years, is just a "Swing Life Away". Something fragile and self-indulgent and real. We never ever doubted that you know how to be political, Rise Against. We just doubted that you still know how to be real.



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user ratings (226)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
A Good Cup Of Joe (3.5)
Far from perfect, but huge steps in the right direction....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 2.2

I'm sick of having to give all these disappointing ratings, tbh

Artuma
June 9th 2017


29048 Comments


really, really beautiful review rowbro

onionbubs
June 9th 2017


6427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review as always. funny how i agree with most everything you said yet i like the album significantly more. I guess its mostly because the sincerity of the lyrics isn't necessarily what i look for in this band

Digging: Placebo - Meds

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 2.2

appreciate that a lot art, thanks

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
June 9th 2017


5278 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Seems like a fertile moment for politico bands, but no one has really stepped up properly.. Wait until Bruce Springsteen puts out his next obligatory pandering political album..

Digging: Scratch Acid - The Greatest Gift

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 2.2

I actually really liked a lot of Tim's lyrics back in the day. obviously Swing is a big example but Rumors, Paper Wings, a lot of RPM have some killer lines

onionbubs
June 9th 2017


6427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh yeah there are some great lines on there. should've reworded that but it wont let me edit it because the servers are dead for me



as someone who aside from endgame likes all of their albums, i don't really listen to anything post sufferer for their lyrics, so I'm not necessarily disappointed by the lines on there. and since the instrumentals are tighter and more forceful than the past few records, I'm the stripe of rise against fan who would enjoy this album

onionbubs
June 9th 2017


6427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

btw i agree that the dirt whispered is a fucking tune. best song on appeal by a mile

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2017


39291 Comments

Album Rating: 2.2

I have a soft spot for Whereabouts Unknown too - last genuine feels moment in their discog - but yeah Dirt is a banger

Crawl
June 9th 2017


2339 Comments


Agreed about The Dirt Whispered. I really like the band up to Appeal, after that I couldn't care less. Probably not checking this out, the single was zzz.

Green Baron
June 9th 2017


23976 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this is a passable album, disappointing but its passable





ashcrash9
June 9th 2017


2763 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

only heard the singles so far but I'd agree with Baron's assessment

great review, Rowbro, really attacks the core issue the band's struggled with for most of the past decade

bgillesp
June 9th 2017


1681 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Awesome review. I liked the music enough to keep it at a 3 and even though I don't pay a ton of attention to lyrics, they definitely were weak. Also I love Swing Life Away too! Props for that shoutout

Digging: Exquirla - Para Quienes An Viven

Drubbi
June 9th 2017


188 Comments


I actually adore Endgame for some reason, maybe it was my first RA album? Obviously RPM and Sufferer are far better albums, but Endgame just has so many catchy songs and I know much of that album off by heart. Didn't listen to their last album and probably won't listen to this.

Digging: Emarosa - 131 Reimagined

SnakeDelilah
June 9th 2017


19823 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

THAT'S WHEN SHE SAID I DON'T HATE YOU BOIIIIIII

Digging: Petal - Comfort

StKiyo
June 9th 2017


377 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fuck yeah Rumors is their best song indeed

Brostep
Emeritus
June 9th 2017


4313 Comments


what a summary

Brostep
Emeritus
June 9th 2017


4313 Comments


I do my part and I believe them all as I sing along


first para especially is really fucking good, particularly that part

Jom
Staff Reviewer
June 9th 2017


2987 Comments


How many pickslides does this album have?

onionbubs
June 9th 2017


6427 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

listening rn and I'm counting how many



the t/t has 5, excluding this weird pickslide sounding thing in the 2nd verse. house on fire has none so far tho, and I'm over halfway through



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