In the tumultuous fifteen year ride for Rise Against, they have had a lot to say, even threatening to derail the band at every turn from the political thrashing within their lyrics. But after such a break from the limelight, will their return provide the same satisfyingly angry installment they usually do?
Opening track The Great Die-Off begins in a slightly unconventional way with string and woodwind instruments introducing the track in an atmospheric way before it kicks into Tim McIlrath’s instantly recognizable gravelly vocals and lyrics that could incite riots, accentuated by a ballsy and punk rock cacophony of crashing drums, thumping bass and jumping guitars. I Don’t Want To Be Here is much the same with more focus on the lyrics over the instrumentals which feel like much the same as Rise Against always brings out, which is great but feels slightly limiting of their true potential, the same can be said for follow up track Tradgedy + Time though this brings a lighter and sunnier guise to the table, it is still very much same old same old.
You begin to lose hope with this release, until you hear title track The Black Market with its smooth and sexy chords and true rock and roll vocals and hooks that shows a new, more controlled and technical side to Rise Against; and Methadone an almost emo ode that would not be out of place on a Senses Fail or Hawthorne Heights album that is effortlessly beautiful with its sudden bursts of silence pierced by harrowing vocals and its crushing blows of guitar and drum solos that instantly suck you in and have you moving to the beat in no time.
Slightly out of place track People Live Here is a sombre yet uplifting acoustic ode to love and the heartache it brings. It’s effortlessly poignant and tugs at the heart strings. This plunges into closing track Bridges that encapsulates absolutely everything that Rise Against stand for: political activism, punk rock beats and true attention to detail which is displayed in every chord that rushes through your ear drums, in every crash of the cymbals and beat of the drums, in every low echo of the bass and in the final raging seconds of the track which ends abruptly in the group shouting and the instrumentals winding down chaotically.
It is a shame that Rise Against have not been brave enough to stray too far from the style they have known for and take their potential to new heights which they are more than capable of, but it is this style that people have grown to love them for and they have perfected it with each and every release bringing not a huge change but slight tweaks to keep it fresh, and you cannot fault that.