Sound — 5
In the past few years, Rise Against have become one of the leading bands of the newest wave of hardcore punk. Influenced by Minor Threat (especially McIlrath, whose vocals are almost identical of MacKaye's), Black Flag and other classics of US punk rock, their style is easily recognizable. While "Endgame"'s predecessor, "Appeal To Reason" was criticized by some for losing the sharp, hardcore sound of the previous four albums, "Endgame" manages to steal some of it. The set of the songs is, however, definitely the weakest in their history. Apart from "Satellite" or "Gentleman's Coup" and maybe two more, the songs are wrecked by the unbearable crystal sound, which, despite being sharper than "ATR"'s mellowed, California-like one, just wastes the potential of some songs. How the compositions may be great, the fact that this is the radio-friendly sound takes away from them great deal of the kick. What's worse, the choirs are put in places that would be better without them. "Help Is On The Way" loses much of the power thanks to "They said, they said" sang in the chorus, similar case is with "Architects", although the choirs aren't that destructive. "Make It Stop (September's Children)", is by far the one that suffers most from the producers' mistakes. It's amazing that both of the co-creators of "The Sufferer And The Witness" and "ATR"'s success agreed on inserting parts sang by the children. How justified it is by the topic, the introduction would be enough. "Disparity By Design" and "Satellite" are the highlight of the album so far, both having enough power to overthrow the government or at least create awesome moshpit. "Disparity..." is unfortunately a little more radio-f******y than the other one, yet in this particular case, the song itself is good enough to not lose too much of its charm. "Midnight Hands" has one of the most un-Rise Against riffs in their whole discography, though the outcome is interesting. Unfortunately, this time one to blame for mediocrity of the song is the vocalist, whose work in here is the weakest on the album. "Survivor's Guilt", being together with "Satellite" the most punk rock in the whole set is a track that on the concerts surely will trigger a pogo to happen. Additionally, McIlrath's fans will recognize the spoken part from one of the Baxter songs, which is a nice easter egg. "Broken Mirrors" and "Wait For Me" are very distinctive, first with almost hard rock riff in the opening, experimental for RA's usual compositions, second sounding as if it was crafted for modern emo kids, with surprisingly good bridge, which saves this one from oblivion. It's also the thing that completely doesn't fit in next song, "A Gentleman's Coup", excluding this part nicely done. Title of "This Is Letting Go" might refer to abandoning punk-rock for the pop-punk, as it is the most pop thing in the set. The questionable mix makes it nice to listen, but definitely not something that will be appreciated for older fans. Last of the set, the title track is somewhere between "Survivor's Guilt" and "Midnight Hands", being above the average and nice to listen, but with wasted potential, just as bonus track - "Lanterns".
Lyrics — 8
McIlrath with his lyrics has, as usual, highlighted the problems of modern world and society. In "Architects" he argues with Tom Gabel's "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", answering that indeed, there are people who "still believe in all the things that they stood by before". "Make It Stop" is also the first track about the homophobia, one of the few social topics of great significance RA hasn't yet covered. Lyrics on this album lack, however, quality of the older songs, feel unfinished, somehow rushed. McIlrath this time doesn't scream as much as he used to (but when he does, it really is the highest standard of hc/punk screaming) and his vocals, which I always loved are weaker than usually. Maybe the sound is to blame, but personally, I think that higher, clean sounds don't fit RA's style. Nevertheless, lyrics and vocals are, for the most of the time, what makes this album possible to go through.
Overall Impression — 5
In comparison to any of the previous achievements, be it great "Unraveling", style-defining "Revolutions Per Minute" or even California-sounding "Appeal To Reason", this album is most radio-friendly, most unfinished and overall weakest. If it was released as an EP, without the weaker half of the songs, I'd give it 8, despite the mix. Unfortunately, this other part of the album deserves at best 4. I really love this band, I was crippled with fear after I saw kids-friendly "Savior" vid, but I still hoped for at least another "ATR" in means of quality. This is really a great letdown, how good the songs may sound live, with the classic edge of the band. I'm concerned about the future of the band, if after the "ATR" hype they committed this, all I hope is their next album will not in any matter resemble "Endgame". Maybe upcoming "Dirt And Roses" song for the "Avengers" soundtrack will be the premise of their comeback to the roots? Time will tell.