Sound — 10
Rise Against were spoken about a lot lately -? first due to the change of their guitarist -? ex-Reach the Sky Chris Chasse replaced Dan Precesion, then their move from the indie label Fat Wreck Chords to Dreamworks, which have been widely discussed. And of course, when it comes to Rise Against, everybody remembers that there are two different ways of playing punk ?- political and none-political. Of course Rise Against belongs to the first clan of punk music. But lets give the album a fair listen. It's about music anyway, doesn't really matter if it is political or not. Well, to be honest, it's kind of hard not to think about it as the first song on the album is the most political one, but I'll try to skip the liberal nature of the band here -? "State Of The Union" is an energetic and heavy start to the album. Right from that song the album bursts with pure punk aggression. During the first couple of songs it feels like somebody's hammering your head, but once you get into it, the music fills you with that aggressive energy and you become a part of it. The album is made in typical punk style -? fast-paced drum beats, powerful guitar chords and thrashing bass lines. The multiple guitar layers and pulsing riffs add melodic flavor to the songs. The record was produced by GGGarth (who previously worked with Rage Against The Machine) and it consists of twelve different songs, each telling a different story. "Paper Wings" is one of the best songs on the album. It's totally infections punctuated with an awesome guitar lick that goes all through the song and a sad story behind it. The song was featured in several video games soundtracks over the past years. "To Them These Streets Belong" has amazing intro. The intro sounds better then the song though. "Anywhere But Here" stands out for me because of it's contagious drum beat. I mean, it's obvious that Brandon Barnes is a very good drummer from the beginning of the album, but this song made me think this guy is crazy. I'd love to see him live. The best song on the record in my opinion is "Swing Life Away." I was totally obsessed with that tear-inducing acoustic ballad right from the first time I heard it. It made me learn all the words by heart and now I sing it all the time. It is done just perfectly and the sharp guitar sound, instead of regular acoustic, fits both the punk music of the band and the romantic mood of the song. Thanx God it's not the last song on the album, otherwise it would be too snotty. The last song "Rumors Of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated," being not as memorable, as others, is a good one for the end of the album. As everywhere on the record, the guitar solo is astounding here.
Lyrics — 10
When it comes to lyrics, Rise Against showed us what a punk rock band should sound like. With all those teenage punk rockers whining about how much life sucks and what happened after they lost their love, I almost forgot there could be any sense in punk music lyrics. Rise Against write poetically angry lyrics, desperate, but with the hope somewhere behind. I am amazed by how incredibly well-written they are -- they even sound fine if you just read them without music. Poetry is surprisingly clever and truly heartfelt -? "It's not the end that I fear/It's life that scares me to death." Again, my favorite is "Swing Life Away." Somehow it touches me deeply, especially the line where McIlrath sings about scars "I'll show you mine if you show me yours first/Lets compare scars I'll tell you whose is worst." It's so simple, but yet powerful, that you wonder, how come you never wrote anything like that? I just fell in love with the way he sings it. Listening to the anger vocals on the album, you can hardy imagine the same man singing a slow song. "Swing Life Away" truly shows the McIlrath vocal ability. It is perfect in everything -? in vocals too. As well as his gritty incomparable voice, I enjoyed McIlrath's singing manner -? he's always passionate about what he sings, doesn't matter if he presents it in melodic singing or piercing screaming.
Overall Impression — 8
With this album, Rise Against reminded us what a real classical, raw punk-rock is. Of any band, that deserves attention is punk world now, Rise Against is the band. For those who's never heard the band, the album would seem a real gem. But unfortunately, for the band's real fans, for those, who know the band's real potential, that might be a disappointment. With the change of the label, the music became milder and more accessible aiming to reach more people and get the band's message through radio and TV. Everybody understands, that the guys and their new major label need some money, but the popularization of the music often leads to loosing the individual features of the band. Which is not welcomed by true fans.