Review Summary: Rise Against's "Hero of War" as a hip-hop album. Stay far away.
“Handlebars” had the quickest turnaround from entertaining summer song to bane of my existence that I think I have ever witnessed. It was played ad nauseam on every radio station due to its ability to fit into both rap and rock crowds, however the album Fight With Tools
itself showed a band with a couple good ideas that were ultimately undone by their own belief that they are “the one voice of the people.” The problem with that belief is that it creates a delusion of grandeur that surrounds the album, sucking some in, and shoving others away. The messages on Fight With Tools
were so heavy-handed that it took people out of the music but not in a way that made them think; it either made people more pretentious in their beliefs or it pissed people off because they disagreed.
Now on to Survival Story
. Largely the same as their major-label debut, the Flobots stick to the formula in which they are most comfortable, except at the same time trying to add a sense of “epic-ness” which, for the most part, fails. The first four tracks fly by with nothing to grab at your attention, as it seems that most of the ideas are being recycled from their debut, with slight changes. The production also makes the entire thing seem so overly manufactured. The only time that something interesting is thrown at you is the Tim McIlrath appearance on “White Flag Warrior,” which was probably set up at their PETA meetings.
Also, lets get this out of the way; not one member of the Flobots has any sense of flow. Whenever any of them steps up to the microphone, what comes out is monotonous, with no sense of the beat around them. On top of that, the lyrics that come out are so straightforward that it feels like listening to Air America Radio for fifty minutes. Metaphors are nearly nonexistent because they would do nothing but get in the way of bludgeoning you with their message. Easily the worst song on the album, however, is “Whip$ and Chain$” (I c wat u did thar) which hilariously combines terrible vocals and lyrics with one of the worst excuses for a beat that has been heard in recent times.
As it all comes together, this album comes off as Fight With Tools
part two, with an even greater sense of pretentiousness. The indie-hip hop combination is mashed together awkwardly, something that their debut actually did pretty well. The album sacrifices easiness of listening in favor of trying to make every song grand in scale, and as a result, the album keeps tripping over its own shoelaces. If you enjoy having linear views shoved down your throat by way of awkward rapping, then this album is the one for you, but for everyone else, this is just another sub-par hip hop album.