Rise Against
The Sufferer and the Witness


3.0
good

Review

by John weathered old reviewer Hanson EMERITUS
July 18th, 2006 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


Iím not a fan of punk in general. Sure, Iím able to get into some (albeit more accessible) hardcore, and much of my recent listening has come from whatís been classified as post-hardcore, I still have a rather strong distaste for most punk. Rise Against had always been a part of this; well, at least since they had released Siren Song of the Counter Culture. I thought it was rather boring, generic stuff with a terrible singer. I still believe myself to be right in regards to that album. However, the release of their new album, The Sufferer & The Witness, has proven me wrong in a way.

I did not buy Siren Song of the Counter Culture; rather, I gave it one listen in a car. This may have been my major folly, as having this album playing clearly was a major plus in its favor. The musicianship in general is very solid, particularly for their brand of punk/melodic hardcore. The guitarists, while not on the level of a band like A Wilhelm Scream, in general play their parts quite well, making inventive riffs and putting their effects pedals to good use, AKA using them when they need to be used, and forgetting about them otherwise (some other guitarists could learn a trick or two from themÖ). The rhythm section is similarly tight, with solid drumbeats and fills being scattered throughout the album. The biggest surprise for me on the album was the quality of the basslines, with bassist Joe Principe creating highlights on the album with his basslines in Ready to Fall and Drones.

Yes, the musicianship is particularly good. However, my biggest gripe with both punk in general and Rise Against is the vocals. Tim certainly does not have a generic voice; itís certainly got its own unique tone and pitch, and combined with the way Tim delivers his vocals, he sounds more like Serj Tanakian of System of a Down than a variety of other punk vocalists. However, he ruins all this by having a painfully small range, often keeping essentially the same exact volume throughout any given song. Itís a cripple, as many songs could have benefited from more vocal dynamics. He gets closest to this in the chorus to The Approaching Curve, but even then, he continues to be too monotone to be enjoyable for long. In contrast, the chorus to Prayer of the Refugee as Tim yells ďLet me Down Down Down!" loses most of its emotional punch as its sung in the exact same manner as the rest of the song. A few vocal lessons would Tim a tremendous amount of good, and perhaps develop him into one of the better vocalists in music in general.

The album lyrically is actually not too shabby, considering the pretenses I came in on. Supposedly itís a loose concept album, but in my traipses with the album,, I really only got an overall theme than any sort of storyline as I was informed on. Regardless, itís got a strong series of messages to impart, and its written in perfect fashion for Timís voice (although it also means he doesnít have to try much uniqueÖ). While some of the lyrics are obviously over the top, slanted in one direction, or leaning towards being overly righteous, itís obvious that Rise Against have some strong beliefs. Thereís no true strong point to the album in lyrical quality, as its generally strong throughout, except for the mostly spoken word song The Approaching Curve. Obviously, spoken word songs depend on excellent songwriting ability, and it of course contains just that. Itís the most obviously concept related song on the album, detailing a conversation between a young couple breaking up. Itís sweet, powerful, and has a haunting ending. How much more could ask for but a string section. Oh wait, never mind, this is punk, lets not get ahead of ourselves.

My biggest gripes with the album are, strangely on opposite ends of the spectrum. My first is the large inconsistency the album has. There are some incredible songs on here, easily laying the groundwork for a mind-blowing album. Songs like Injection, Drones, Prayer of the Refugee, and even the ballad Roadside (one of the best punk ballads Iíve heard in years, with ace female vocals) are moving and well executed, with everyone in the band contributing strong individual performances and showing how close they are as a band.

However, then there are some absolutely horrid songs. Bricks is one of the worst pieces of recorded music Iíve heard, being a ramble of a song more than anything else. Chamber the Cartridge is too bombastic for its own good, with the ďwhoah-ohís" just not working in any real fashion, and instead making the song feel bloated. Then there are moments in songs that completely ruin an otherwise enjoyable tune. First single Ready to Fall is the most apparent of these; containing one of the most unique verses on the album and an enjoyable and catchy chorus, itís dragged down by Timís horrific screaming. That sort of thing happens too often on the album to overlook, and its unfortunate, as many of the poor songs on the album do show individual promise.

Strangely, the next problem is the monotony the album contains. Being an untrained punk listener, I may not be the man to make this assumption, but a lot of the album just sounds the same. Sure, thereíll be a neat bassline occasionally or a new and ďooooh" inducing guitar tone, but in general, they recycle the same (albeit interesting) riffs and drums beats, causing much of the album to feel the same. It causes the dreaded ďUhÖwhat song am I listening to again?" effect, which in general is an album killer.

Luckily though, the albums good songs are enough to save it from being a waste of time. Rise Against are a tremendously talented band, and they certainly have a good idea of what they want to do. Once Tim learns to sing with more variety and the band themselves get a few more tricks (not too many; theyíve got a good amount of dynamics as it is), theyíll undoubtedly create an album thatís accessible to anyone. For the genre, itís undoubtedly a strong piece of work, one of the most distinguished of the year and certainly one of the best. However, to the casual music listener or to someone who really doesnít care for punk, I canít recommend the album as a whole. Giving it a reserved 4 itís genre, and a generous 2.5 for otherwise, the album ends up being a high 3. Itís certainly worth your time to pick up if youíve liked anything theyíve produced before, or if you just like this brand of punk/melodic hardcore. It has the potential to be an album youíll love, and then again it has the potential to be an album youíre severely disappointed in. For me? Iíll enjoy the good songs off of this and just forget the others exist.

Reccomended Tracks (AKA The Good stuff)
Injection
Prayer of the Refugee
Drones
Roadside




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Comments:Add a Comment 
francesfarmer
July 18th 2006


1477 Comments


So this is what it's really like? I'll take your word for it, since I can relate. I really lost my taste for punk almost entirely. Good review, but it lacked pr0n.

Full Collapse299
July 18th 2006


507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You pretty much nailed it. Best review of this album so far.

Full Collapse299
July 18th 2006


507 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

You pretty much nailed it. Best review of this album so far.

Hatshepsut
July 18th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review, but I lurve Rise Against.

kno_kontrol
July 18th 2006


448 Comments


Excellent work, my opinion is somewhat similar, especially in regards to the monotony. I actually think Chamber the Cartridge is a great song. Then again, I like Protest the Hero and the dynamics of that song remind me of "Blindfolds Aside". Whatever, good review nonetheless

Hatshepsut
July 18th 2006


1997 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

When are you gonna submit the DSotM review? It's my birthday present :-

The Sludge
July 18th 2006


2169 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I can see why you wouldn't like this as much as, lets say, me. I think Tims voice has good depth to it, I think he had some vocal training before he started singing in bands. IDK, it just fits the music perfectly.

I mentioned this in the other reviews that I basically ear raped this album. The newness wore off a bit now. And now I can say that I enjoy listening to Revolutions Per Minute more, but this has better flow.

south_of_heaven 11
July 18th 2006


5470 Comments


Yea dude, one of my downfalls sometimes is I base my listens off when I hear it in my truck. Not a good idea.
Great review. Glad the site kicked back on and blah blah blah nice work. These guys actually aren't that bad. I doubt I'll buy this though, especially after reading this.

south_of_heaven 11
July 18th 2006


5470 Comments


Well, I can't really download tracks anymore. Last time I got a mass load of viruses on this PC and had to pay $300 bucks to fix it.
But what I can do is check out some of those dumb 30 second song samples of those songs to see what's up. I'll check em out tommorow.

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


Tops review.

I was recommended getting into both this band and Against Me!. The vocals of Against Me! really detract from them in my opinion, it's just not very nice to listen to. If the lead singer of Rise Against is the same, I don't think I'll bother checking them out.

mynameischan
Emeritus
July 18th 2006


17960 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You suck at reviewing lolz.This Message Edited On 07.18.06

RandyfromPennywise
July 18th 2006


752 Comments


Ilavatar - haha, well I might check those recommended tracks. Meh the kids like such crap stuff these days.

Pete
July 19th 2006


189 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

RandyfromPennywise - There's really very little similarity between Rise Against and Against Me! aside from the fact that they both have the word "against" in their name.



Iluvatar - Cool to see an "out-of-preferred-genre" review. I don't agree with a lot you say (as evident by my review of this album), but I respect your opinions and you do substantiate them.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments


Im lik, boycotting ur revews now lolol

The Sludge
July 19th 2006


2169 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

No real similarities between RA and AM! except Fat Wreck. Tim's voice to some is masterful, but to others it isnt to be desired. That just have to be delt with by sampling some music somewhere. Try watching any of their videos at launch.yahoo.com or something.

Bron-Yr-Aur
July 19th 2006


4405 Comments


Bron- I lyk rly dun car lolol im sry luv me


Hey baby. I like the way you type that review. Yeah... you type that review real good...

RandyfromPennywise
July 20th 2006


752 Comments


[QUOTE=Fat Pete]RandyfromPennywise - There's really very little similarity between Rise Against and Against Me! aside from the fact that they both have the word "against" in their name.
[/QUOTE]Meh I might check a couple of their tracks then but I'm not expecting much, certainly not in comparison to other Fat bands like Strung Out and Lagwagon.

The Sludge
July 20th 2006


2169 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Actually try to download Black Mask And Gasoline, you actually wont be dissapointed. Really anything off of Revolutions Per Minute.

RandyfromPennywise
July 20th 2006


752 Comments


Just put a torrent in of Rise Against and I'm getting about half-a-dozen songs, Black Mask and a few others Drop The Baby recommended to me a few months ago. I'll let you know if I find them to be good. If you don't hear a peep, you know I think they're shyte!This Message Edited On 07.20.06

JohnTerry
July 20th 2006


1 Comments


Black Masks & Gasoline is sick!
This Message Edited On 07.20.06



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