Review Summary: Album pwns so hard, your grandchildren will feel it.
Johnny was your average angst ridden teenage male. He grew up in Chicago, IL and has been following the uprising of the melodic punk band Rise Against since their start in 1999. Johnny went to all their earlier shows around the Windy City and became excited that they signed to Fat Mike's well known label (Fat Wreck). Soon followed two punk rock classics (The Unraveling, Revolutions Per Minute). Johnny watched as they went from playing local shows to Warped Tour favorites. With the release of Siren Song Of The Counter Culture in 2004, Johnny became even more psyched for the release of The Sufferer And The Witness on Independence Day, 2006.
Shortly after the release of the new album, Johnny was standing outside a local Walgreens (better known as the Wall) discussing with a few fellow punkers about how this is by far the greatest release of the year. Within minutes a white van comes to a screeching hault as two men leaves the vehicle and throws a giant potato sack over Johnny's head. Once the bag is over, one of them trips him from the legs and completes the potato sacking. They haul him away in the white van, speeding into nowhere land.
Johnny awoken dazed and confused. He slightly concussed and didn't know where he was at. He looked around his surroundings and saw he was in a white walled room, sitting on a chair by a table, all by himself. Almost 15 minutes went by when a tall, well built suited man with a five-o-clock shadow walked in the office with a blow up doll and set the blow up doll on an empty chair around the table. The man sits in the third and final chair at the table, pulls out a Smoker's Choice cigarette and lights it. Serious stare down between Johnny (who still don't know what's going on) and the man in the suit. After about 10 seconds of staring, the man in the suit back hands Johnny right square in the face. Johnny takes it with a confused look on his face, slightly looking down in shame. With more silence to come, the man in the suit stands. With a bit of pacing back and forth, he pulls out his badge.
Man in the suit - "Do you know what this badge is about? Do you know the importance of who I am? I am serious business. This is FBI business. Would you happen to know why you are here?"
- "No, I mean, no sir. The last thing I remember was that I was in front of Walgreens with a few of my friends discussing the Rise Against cd."
Man in the suit (FBI agent) - "Wow, so you know exactly why you're here. Interesting, no one usually ever admits why they are here until I unleash some torture."
- "What would be the problem with me chatting about Rise Against with a few of my pals? Its not like I am plotting a terrorist attack or something like that."
(The FBI agent reaches across the table and slaps Johnny again)
FBI agent - "You quoted with your friends that this is the most important release of the year. That is a very bold statement to make, since it is only just a punk record. I'm sure there is others worthy of the praise outside of the Wall. What makes 'The Sufferer And The Witness' oh so much better than, lets just say, P.O.D.'s 'Testify.' "
- "First of all, P.O.D. blows huge monkey turd nuts. But Rise Against's album provides a crisp sound to the face of punk. The album flows very well, possibly better than their previous library. Very little hint of filler. Tim McIlrath's vocals to some maybe off key, but to most its very emotional and melodic. There's moments there where the instrumentals adds great depth and does not prude from the Rise Against sound. Like in the opening track Chamber The Cartridge where the drums leading up to the song builds pressure for one of the stronger opening tracks in the Rise Against catalog. Great fills provided by Chris Chasse when the song gets into gear. Great fills are heard all through the album. Like in Prayer Of The Refugee, where during the verse, the clean fills adds to the powerful punch of a chorus, thus making it one of the stronger tracks on the album. Does that suit you fine?"
(The FBI agent slowly gets closer to Johnny's eyes, with a dark and gloomy stare. He gets close enough to blow the cheap cigarette smoke right in Johnny's face. Johnny turns away in disgust as the FBI agent backs away.)
FBI agent- "Well I see you backed up your opinion well. But how can you explain the controversy they entered with their lyrics and their backing of PETA?"
- "Well I respect them for what they believe in. Its not too often where a band will stand up for their own opinions both politically and personally while not coming off as complete douchewads. Rise Against can come off completely political through their politics, so I can see how that makes some newer listeners turn away. Personally I find Tim's balls to the walls approach of song writing very unique and hard to find in the genre, or anywhere else. With the mixture of his well written lyrics and powerful yet emotional vocals, makes it hard to beat. As far as the Ready To Fall video, its still standing up for what they believe in. Even knowingly that its not the best marketing move to show horrific images of slaughtered and tortured animals. But if it helps one person/corporation change their views on animal cruelty, then to them its $150,000 well spent. I personally am a meat eater, but I can respect their lifestyle as much."
(The FBI agent turns the chair around to the back is facing forward and takes a seat, Britney style. Actually being surprised with Johnny's backings, he decides to throw one last questiony punch)
FBI agent- "With the unexpected popularity of their acoustic hit in 2005 Swing Life Away. Do you think that they are cashing their crops with the recording of Roadside?"
- "Well its not surprising that there is a softer song to relieve the fast paced punk songs. But Roadside is nowhere near like Swing Life Away. First of all, Swing Life Away had a lighter acoustic edge, but Roadside has an eerie clean electric sound. Tim's voice never sounded better than on Roadside, as in Swing Life Away his vocals can seem straining at times. Not to mention the backing female vocals are nothing short of superb. Lyrically they are quite differently as well. Swing Life Away showcases the better times of a relationship as Roadside is the aftermath of a relationship gone wrong. Where the leftover feelings are still there, but the emotions are gone. So its redundant to say that they are cashing in on a good thing. Roadside to me is one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in any genre in the past 10 years. "
(The FBI agent stands in awe as Johnny continues his rant.)
- "With the addition to this album, it features great production value, great flow, and it does not deprive from the formal Rise Against sound that old fans were already used to. It takes what made Revolutions Per Minute and Siren Song Of A Counter Culture and made it to where not just older fans can listen to, but new fans can get into that is remotely interested in punk music just the slightest. I will take my statement back about being one of the biggest releases of the year, I'm sure there has been other releases that deserves that praise, but I will say this. This is the strongest punk releases this year that doesn't disappoint much like other highly publicized releases. And I would appreciate it if you[/color] (the FBI agent)
[color=red]get off my case and get on something more important with your life. I'm sure there is some hXc teen girl that thinks Hawthorn Heights can make a bunt cake flawlessly. Or maybe there is someone resembling an Asian kid that is in love with Good Charlotte. Just leave me alone out of this."
(The FBI agent backs up to the door and slowly nods his head up and down. He is impressed with how Johnny represented himself and is shocked that a punk can back himself up like Johnny did.)
FBI agent - "Well you are right, its hard for me to say that since I'm the one with the badge. Although I'm not fully convinced that this is that important, but you actually make me want to give this another listen with an open mind. So with that I deeply apologize."
- "Why thank you, apology accepted. Well by the way, what's with the blow up doll?
FBI agent - "It's a she, and her name is Pattycakes. She makes me feel comfortable. If there is no further questions I will have you returned to the Wall."
Without any warning, the FBI agent snaps his fingers and two guys come in and throws Johnny back into the potato sack and drives him back to the Walgreens where he was taken from, as if nothing ever happened. Johnny cant help to think how he stood up an FBI agent.
The Sludge's Thumb Ups
Prayer Of The Refugee
Under The Knife