When I was asked to do this review I was excited about it, but also a little bit unsure of what to expect. I’ve been listening to punk and hardcore music from a pretty young age, but Rise Against was one of those bands who always seemed too “big” for me. And I don’t mean big in the sense of popular, I mean big in the sense of having their shit together. But it was clear after one listen that Rise Against isn’t only for hardcore activists who make it their top priority every day to ponder political conundrums. They really just, well, they give a shit. And that’s a breath of fresh air. Read on to hear what I have to say about their newest release Endgame.
Possibly one of the most influential bands in the scene today, modern punk veterans Rise Against prove their musical and political prowess with their sixth studio album release Endgame. Although the band has denied claims that their latest release is a concept album, its obvious after one listen why someone would think that. Rife with both politically and emotionally charged lyrics, this album explores many shitty occurances that have taken place in America; from Hurricane Katrina to school shootings. At some times methodical and at others deliciously dischordant, Endgame spotlights guitarist Zach Blair’s versatility throughout the entire album.
The song “Satellite” features riffs that climb up and down the scale, while the take-no-prisoners approach to the guitar work in stand out track “Broken Mirrors” will make you want to move. But “Midnight Hands” is perhaps the most impressive example, making use of a killer opening before bleeding into a guitar riff that can only be described as sounding like pulling a thread out of an unraveling jacket. However, Blair’s guitar would be nothing without the lyricism presented by Tim Mcllrath. It is the message of Endgame that will really get to you. The end of the world and the currently sad state of the nation has become a popular theme amongst many recent releases, but Rise Against has managed to explore those ideas in a fresh and non-jaded way. “Survivor Guilt” expresses the sorrow of veterans, while opening track “Architects” is a call to take action in order to make a difference.
There is one track on the album that really struck a chord (haha) with me. Easily the most harrowing track on the album, “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” is truly eerie. An enraged, yet gentle demand for help, this track features McIlrath’s raspy (although somehow soothing) vocals alongside heavy guitar, but really gets creepy when it features a voice reading a list of the names and ages of the teens who recently committed suicide due to bullying, all over a raucous guitar section. It’s the type of song to make you take a step back and say “whoa”.
Overall, Rise Against proves with Endgame that after 12 years in the business, they are still as politically and musically relevant as ever, and have definitely created a positive, and even inspiring, message within the album. It’s clear, as it has always been, that Rise Against really care about what it going on around them, not only in the music scene, but in the greater world as well. With the closing track “Endgame” McIlrath despondently proclaims “We’ve forgotten how to feel!” and seems to implore the listener to realize the tragedies we are all facing, and to ask oneself “How do I feel about this? What I am doing to make a difference?”