Sound — 8
What happens when you lose a bet to your friends? You probably lose some money, or maybe even dignity. What happens when you lose a bet to NOFX bassist/singer Fat Mike? You have to release an exclusive 7" vinyl on Fat Wreck Chords. That's how this EP came to be. And man, I'll tell you, I'm glad they lost that bet. I know that some of you may think it's odd for Rise Against to release something on Fat Wreck considering how much they've changed since they were actually on that label, but hear them out. The first track, Grammatizator, might just be one of the heaviest songs they've written (State of the Union being the obvious exception). Here we see Tim and the boys really getting back to their hardcore punk roots. The song is fast, angry, and in my opinion it has a really great groove to it. It sounds like something that could have been on The Unraveling. Heck, compared to how Rise Against sounds now, it sounds like a completely different band. The other song, Voice of Dissent, is slightly more melodic and is more of an anthemic sing-along track. It sounds closer to Revolutions Per Minute material. It's fast, but the song is relatively tame compared to Grammatizator. Still a great song, though. The production is raw and almost scratchy, almost like they left the songs in the demo stages. It gives the EP character, but the problem is that the lead guitar solo in Grammatizator is almost inaudible.
Lyrics — 8
If you were dissapointed with the lack of screamed/shouted vocals on Appeal to Reason, or you think that Tim just doesn't have what it takes anymore, this EP would prove you wrong. Tim's still bringing the heat. And, he's still a great singer. Grammatizator's lyrics are as edgy as the music itself, apparently taking stabs at either corporations or politicians (well, somebody at any rate) who exploit others/the planet for personal gain, and are "oblivious to the fucking mess left lying in the wake". Voice of Dissent is your standard stereotypical subject matter for a punk rock song, about standing up for what you believe in and raising your voice for what is right. But the vocal melody is catchy enough to promote sing-alongs, and in my opinion Tim does have a certain way of wording his lyrics that really add to the value of what he's saying.
Overall Impression — 8
So, for being so radically different from Appeal to Reason, how old must these songs be? Old demos? Scrapped tracks from older albums? Nope. These songs were actually recorded during the Appeal to Reason recording sessions, but they never made it on to the album. That's right. As much as it sounds like older Rise Against (and older punk rock in general), these songs are at most only a few years old, proving that Rise Against still have the fire that they did back in 2001. What's cool about this EP was that it was released exclusively on 7" vinyl, and it was the second vinyl I ever purchased (right after Rise Against's Revolutions Per Minute, coincidentally). The pressing was limited to only 5,018 copies, 4,008 of which were black and 1,010 of which were red/white marble swirl. I was lucky enough to get my hands on the red one. At the end of the day though, I am saddened by two things. One: there's only two tracks. And while I really like these two tracks, I think there could have been an entire B-sides compilation if they wanted to. Two: Seeing as how these tracks didn't make it on to Appeal to Reason, I think it's pretty clear that we won't see many songs like these on the next album. Maybe Rise Against should release EPs on Fat Wreck more often.