So! The new Rise Against album. You've seen it in stores. You've heard demos, you've gotten the promotional emails.
But if you're reading this review, there's a pretty good chance that you haven't checked out the album on Purevolume yet.
Well, what are you waiting for? It's a fine album, and the whole thing's up for streaming at the moment. While The Sufferer and the Witness probably won't be quite as epic as Revolutions Per Minute and Siren Song of the Counter Culture were, Rise Against has nonetheless produced another intriguing variation on the formula.
Since going absolutely crazy the first time I heard "Voices Off Camera" a few years ago, I've been a fan of Rise Against. I've spent many hours simply brooding, gazing off to the distance as "Dancing For Rain" and "Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated" flickered back and forth on repeat. I too was incredulous to hear that Rise Against was getting massively played on alt radio stations with "Swing Life Away". I'm familiar with the music.
I've got to say, this is one of the more emo-shaded RA albums. The whole tone of the album seems... post-revolutionary. The songs reflect the feel of a quashed or betrayed revolution, deceived, used, discarded. "Bricks", for instance, is reminescent of older, cry-to-arms Rise Against songs, but snatches of it are bitter, making the song a jaded look back. Likewise, the seemingly optimistic, powerful "Behind Closed Doors" speaks of weak revolutionaries, and the pain and fear of a movement being crushed.
A lot of the songs are more passive too - hence my feeling the emo vibe--like "Ready To Fall", "Good Left Undone", and "Under The Knife", which speak of being blindly led, of being helpless, or of enduring pain. Give me the drug, give me the knife, give me what's back of my life... these aren't idealistic themes, this is survivor music. Even "Prayer of the Refugee" (beautiful song), which is one of the more defiant numbers on the album, is a kind of recovery, a rising-from-the-ashes song. Some songs, like the hopeless, eerie "Drones" and the noticeably emo "Roadside" (seriously, it may not be the quietest track--hell YES "Approaching the Curve"--but it's the most depressing. I actually wasn't super-excited about it, and I'm emo), are downright defeated--failed attempts at leading simple lives, simple lives... yeah, definitely a darker, embittered ending to the aggro-punk-feeling revolution presented in prior albums. Sure, it wasn't all "Hurray revolution campfire song time!" with the earlier stuff, but this is still markedly more cynical.
For all of the quieter style and darker feel, however, this release still has some total gems. "Chamber the Cartridge" is just a wicked cool way to start the album off with a smash, whereas "Ready to Fall" was, from the moment I heard it, supremely danceable. "Prayer of the Refugee" is just overwhelming. I hum it, I croon it, I scream it as I skateboard shirtless through the streets. The variations between nostalgia and furious vengeance and between styles in that song drive me crazy. It's just gripping. Then there's "Approaching the Curve," which, although I'm not super-delighted with the chorus, is so very haunting. It's a detached, echo-y song that (except for that kind of annoying chorus), will rattle around emo-ishly in your skull every time you get tired and depressed... or maybe just when I get tired and depressed... no, actually, I'm pretty sure it's universally catchy/disturbing.
Having gone on at length about content, I will also assure you all that the album is also good on, you know, the conscious level. It sounds good, it sports excellent vocals (I've always thought that RA handles screamed stuff very well), and the instruments stick to the formulaic trend set in the other albums, which is tried but truly great.
That's my take on it. Darker, more desperate, but still some out-of-my-head awesome songs on there. Hit up purevolume and listen to the tracks I recommended. Listen before buying, but you'll probably end up buying.
So go--and brace yourself for The Sufferer and the Witness.
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| THE SUFFERER AND THE WITNESS
<< 1) Chamber the Cartridge >>
3) Ready to Fall
5) Under the Knife
6) Prayer of the Refugee
8) The Approaching Curve
9) Worth Dying For
10) Behind Closed Doors
12) The Good Left Undone