on October 7, 2008
Rise Against have nailed it yet again with their third major label album. With powerful vocals and a strong political message, Rise Against have created another masterpiece. They definitely aren't afraid to stray a little from their hardcore style and into a slower, more melodic genre, but they also aren't afraid to express their feelings, and express them well.
I give this album 4.5 stars(can't pick it, but 4 is not enough) because RA have only improved from their last release, and improvement is the greatest virtue in a band's music career. However, the only advice I'd have for the band is to not stray too far from their fast hardcore roots. Mid-tempo songs are good, but I have every confidence that RA will speed up their tempos a little on their next release. However, for now, I commend the band because they've still stayed, for the most part, true to their hardcore/punk roots, while also getting great popular reception with Appeal to Reason.
on October 7, 2008
I first heard about Rise Against when they opened for Bad Religion, and I was really surprised by the combination of how fun they were to listen to and watch, as well as how they had lyrics that were written to actually mean something.
With the release of Appeal to Reason, Rise Against continues this trend and refines it. The songs all have a bit of a more radio-friendly sounding edge to them, but the lyrics to the songs are all still clearly more intelligent than your normal 'radio band.' Also, unlike what normally happens with band releases so close to an election, Rise Against manages to avoid harping specifically on their feelings about the candidates and therefore end up with an album that is timeless in nature. The musicality of the group has also improved with songs having a more refined edge to them with less of the more out of control feeling of their earlier albums.
If you're looking for an album that is catchy but has a lot more meaning in it than your average pop-punk album, look no further than this album. If you like songs with meaning to be all about the lyrics and to take second place, you probably won't much care for this album. I think it is amazing though.
on October 7, 2008
Pop-punk has always been a fairly trivial, disrespected genre; even the combination of such wildly divergent descriptors as "pop" and "punk" was more than a little odd. On one hand of the spectrum you had bands like Good Charlotte and Simple Plan, bands that took the rapid-fire, up-tempo rhythms and power-chord angst of their predecessors and paired them with bratty, candy-coated pop song structures and high-pitched sentiments. On the other hand, you had bands that retained the melodic integrity of punk and their poppier brethren but took inspiration from the furious, challenging, and socially conscious hardcore bands of the `80s, such as Fugazi and Bad Religion. As anyone who has listened to Rise Against's previous albums, they fall much more squarely in the latter department, yet with Appeal to Reason, their 5th record, they lean even more into the poppier realm without leaving behind the politically-charged lyrics of their previous releases.
The addition of new guitarist Zach Blair has done nothing to dull their obvious musical fire; opener "Collapse (Post Amerika)" announces itself with a squall of feedback before erupting into a blistering solo and an unrelenting drumbeat as singer Tim McIlrath's vicious yet controlled roar snarls "this is not a test / this is cardiac arrest." One of the most immediately apparent improves on Appeal to Reason is McIlrath's delivery, as the talented vocalist now stays away from the tuneless screaming that often characterized their peers and continues to focus on leading the melody.
Songs like lead single "Re-Education (Through Labor)" and the astounding "The Dirt Whispered" showcase McIlrath's versatility and his ability to overcome the cacophonous storm of the instruments below him. Unfortunately, when he is confronted with songs that never interest musically and the band tinkers too much with the production ("From Heads Unworthy," "The Strength To Go On"), his vocals tend to remind one of a slightly more punkish Nickelback, a comparison that should definitely not be taken as a compliment.
Rise Against have also not forgotten that this is an election year, and the majority of the album reflects their stance that, uh, President Bush sucks. The aforementioned "Collapse" hopes that "this is a chance to set things straight," while the undeniably angry McIlrath rages on "Entertainment" that "all we are is entertainment / caught up in our own derangement / tell us what to say and what to do." And perhaps the most touching song on the record, if not the best, is the mostly acoustic "Hero of War," a song about a soldier, is patriotic and critical at the same time, as all great protest anthems try to be.
And so what Rise Against have produced with Appeal to Reason is at once your typical punk protest record, one that at times blurs together with repetitive bursts of guitar and propulsive, standard hardcore beats, but for the most part stands on its own plateau of McIlrath's righteous indignation, melodies that don't quit, and a sense of energy that is far more tangible and real than that of their mall-punk neighbors. Rise Against are on a streak for a fickle genre of even more fickle fans, and Appeal to Reason is another strong effort by a band on the way to the top of their game.
At Christmas-time we like to stuff our kids' stockings with little odds & ends including techie gadgets, movies, music CDs and such... A few years ago (and to this day), Rise Against became one of the bands that moved to the top of our teen daughter's playlist so we purchased this 'album' for her... and it was (and still is) a big hit.
Since then, access to the Amazon Music Cloud has been a gigantic bonus for us all! This set of songs, along with every other CD or MP3 download that we have purchased from Amazon since like 1999, has become available to be uploaded to the Cloud -- and we have taken full advantage of that opportunity.
Now we can access this set of music and all the other music we have purchased from anywhere we have 'net access. Just outstanding!
If you are a fan of this music, then we highly recommend this 'album' and the Amazon Music Cloud service to all. If you are not familiar with the music, listen to the samples provided by Amazon to help you make a decision.
on October 9, 2008
As Rise Against broke the skin of the mainstream some time after the release of "Siren Songs" with the single "Swing Life Away," it appeared, at least to me, like the petty fame that this band had run into would not ultimately be their destruction like it was for basically ever underground band that makes it big. "Sufferer and the Witness," while not as in-your-face as previous releases, still carries the fist pumping anthems that keeps fans of the underground happy regardless of the major label. The sellout whistle was not yet blown, but I think now it has. "Appeal to Reason" proves what I had been trying to deny for the longest time. Fame DOES ruin every band it touches. Rise Against I thought was the exception to the rule, but all that happened was it took a two year transition period. This CD, I hate to say it, was made for the mainstream and for the radio. It's full of big choruses and power ballads. Tim, who I believe once said "We've always written pop songs and we've always written hardcore songs" has managed to write exactly no hardcore songs at all. In fact, he doesn't use his trademark scream even once until the closing track, but instead, emphasizes his capability to hold a note. Now, let me say this, Tim has one of the best voices out there, and his singing is a gem, but one thing that made him special was the ability to go back and forth from singing to screaming at the drop of a hat without taking away from the song or from his voice, and now that's gone.
Instrumentally, we see a lot of the same Rise Against that we've been given before, which is not a bad thing 'cause they never had an issue laying down the catchy hooks and what not. There is a surprising emphasis on bass here which I find nice; the beginning of "The Dirt Whispered" reminds me a little of "Like the Angel"
The lyrics on this CD are half and half. If every song could have been written as nicely as the opener "Collapse" this would be a fantastic CD, hands down. The issue I have is that Tim no longer seems angry anymore about the state of the planet, even though many songs touch on this subject. He used to put the quote in all the booklets that said "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention" but now not even he sounds angry about the problems we face, he just seems depressed about them. The messages of the songs sometimes get lost in the depressing tone, such as in "Long Forgotten Sons" and "Audience of One," both of which I have seen called highlight tracks but neither of which are. Tim only takes two stabs at fast paced punk rock on this CD, one in the opener, which is the best song on the CD and the only one that I would consider to be truly amazing (aside from "Hero of War" but that's for a different reason), and the other is in "Kotov Syndrome," which is not a terrible song but it just seems like they threw it together at the last minute to give the fans something to mosh to. It's kind of like a generic speed song that instrumentally sounds like "Bricks" but isn't nearly as fun or meaningfully.
I used to cite this band as proof that not ever band that makes it big mellows out, and now I can't do that any more. Anyone who thinks that "Revolutions Per Minute" is better than "Prayer for the Refugee" (ie, anyone who has known about this band before they were on a major label) will be disappointed with this album, and rightfully so. They have abandoned what created their original fanbase in return for a larger, more mainstrean one. (I think there's a term for that, but I won't use it 'cause you all know what it is) Overall, only an okay CD, probably 2 and a half stars.
Also, this has nothing to do with the music, but the back of the book has "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices" as suggestive reading, but this CD was available at Wal-Mart, and for less than it was at FYE. Hypocrits?
on March 5, 2011
When Amazon kept sending me recommendations, I FINALLY decided to check them out. I'm glad I did.
First off, punk rock isn't what it used to be. It used to be fun, awesome original music that spit in the worlds face and made everyone think. Most punk rock bands now don't have that driving force (Green Day, Fall Out Boy) but these guys. These guys have kept their original sound, but have refined it and made it ALOT more interseting.
To describe this band I would have to say the sound alot like Offspring, with their own message and sound to. But they have alot of Offspring influence. It sounds cool. Overall, if your a punk rock fan I would recommend you get this cd. Its worth it.
on October 15, 2008
This album is not what I was expecting, but I like surprises. Some of the songs like Collapse,
this is a chance to set things straight
to bend or break the rules back into place
there is no middle ground, no compromise
we've drawn the line, with perfect aim
we've stood back and thrown
glass windows break and it's all about to blow
Lights go out, as we pass the torch again
and hope that it stays lit
neutrality means that
you don't really care
because the struggle goes on
even when your not there
blind and unaware
could only be Rise against, other tracks such Hero of War show that they still keep their political edge without making the same cd over and over.
To me Kotov Syndrome and Entertainment have a more radio friendly, mainstream feel and are not my favorites. From the comments I've been hearing (and reading) this cd has upset some of the older Rise Against fans while bringing some new ones into the fold. It will take alot more than this last release to shake my faith in them. I gave 5 stars, 4 for the cd and the 5th because it is RISE AGAINST. Oh, and the person who gave it 1 star....suck it!
on April 29, 2011
I can understand that some fans were a bit surprised by the band's decision to expand themselves musically (in other words, switch things up a little bit) but this is by far my favorite Rise Against album. And I've listened to the 4 major label CDs. To me, Appeal to Reason represents the band, not "selling out" or becoming "mainstream" but expanding their music. This is still definitely a Rise Against CD, no questions asked. But songs like Audience of One and The Dirt Whispered have an up-beat and optimistic sound to their music that make them different from the tracks featured on Counter-Culture and Sufferer and the Witness. To me though, this CD represents the band at what I feel is their most liberated. The songs all have the same punk feel as the band's past work, they're aggressive, and fast. But there's some very....musical touches here that aren't present in the band's other work. The start of the ending track, Whereabouts Unknown, is the perfect example. Some people call this "slowing down," but I don't think that's what it is, I call it "fleshing out" their music and sound. The band painted their sound on a much broader canvas. They didn't want to make the same CD for a 3rd time, and this represents to me the perfect attempt at creating an album in the same style as the previous 2, but with something a bit different, and, I feel, something better.
I think they did this much better here than they did on Endgame, their next CD, where I think the band strayed a bit too far. Appeal to Reason, though, represents by far my favorite Rise Against CD, with almost every song being a great listen, and with an expansion of their sound that's not afraid to try something new, something maybe even slightly more up-beat or slower musically. But this is only in bits and pieces. Even with these little touches, this CD is completely a Rise Against CD and, in my opinion, their best work.
on December 9, 2008
I am a big fan of Rise Against and think that they are currently one of the most brilliant bands out there. With that said, this album just didn't do it for me. I'd like to just sum it up to the fact that they've moved to a major record label and were forced to finally "sell out." Yet, I don't think that's really it. Truth is, their lyrics are still politically charged, and their music still has that hardcore punk sound. However, this album lacks the energy that their previous releases did. These songs just aren't convincing...it's more like they are just going through the motions, like they've lost the fire that drove their previous works. For most people, this probably won't make a difference...like I said before, this is still Rise Against. However, compare this record to Revolutions Per Minute or Sounds of the Counter Culture, and you'll realize that something has changed...
on April 21, 2013
For some reason, I hadn't gotten this when it first came out, though I'd heard the music at concerts and on Youtube. I finally broke down and couldn't believe I hadn't gotten it earlier! It's Rise Against at its most assertive, with clean, driving harmonies, and and great sing-along bits.