Write off’s are the way Music Emissions resolves battles for an editorial review slot. This time we have Aaron Shipp and Brian Rutherford battling it out for the right to publish their review of Rise Against’s latest release, “End Game”.
Which Endgame review do you like the best?
- trismus (Aaron Shipp) (67%, 6 Votes)
- hstisgod (Brian Rutherford) (33%, 3 Votes)
Total Voters: 9
Punk’s a finicky bitch.
Paranoid and delusional, it idolizes its best while cautiously eyeing the periphery, waiting for the next of its pack to “sell out”. It looks for early indications of this like archers on a castle wall. These tribal misfits pace back and forth, watching the outstretched prairie for signs of danger to their flock. They do this tirelessly for the way of their House is a loyal and defiant one. Any sign that a cherished sheep might transform its pure white wool to black must be identified early and stricken down immediately lest it become tainted and subsequently abandoned. Far too many times the archers, their keen eyes on the flock, have witnessed a previously unseen fox make a dash toward their band and sign them to a major label.
The arrows thwack into the ground, missing their intended target all too late.
Now that favorite band cashes the check, throws on the guyliner, and is opening for Panic! At the Disco the following summer. The band takes their now pacified punk and gets it sponsored. It’s subsequently tainted with corporate influence and now the tours go through Chicago and Denver instead of Sioux Falls and Lawrence. Their merchandise starts selling at Hot Topic and shopping mall “skate shops”. At best the band’s original followers will fondly reflect on their “early shit but now they suck”.
I get it. When a band makes such a swooping change toward what is suddenly trendy, it’s disingenuous and you’d be a fool to think that band will ever be the same. This is why it’s so important that you fully endorse those that do manage to become mainstream while holding your virtues high. It’s an ungrateful and finicky thing to turn your back on a band because they’ve succeeded in doing what they love for a living. It’s a precious few of your ilk, Punk, that can focus their vitriol toward something grander than the cliché topics du jour.
Rise Against is one of these bands and, in fact, I’d say they’re the most punk band I’ve heard in years. T-shirts, jeans, and staunch political lyrics: who could market that to teenage girls with dreams of being on Teen Mom? You can’t dress Rise Against up, remix one of their songs with the Black Eyed Peas, and have a summer hit single. “Swing Life Away” is undoubtedly the bands most chart-friendly song and I guarantee it was included on many a playlist created by heartsick oddball adolescent boys for girls who were way out of their league but were pined over all semester. Part of the pubescent experience is learning how to love, bobble it around, and not forsake it forever once it plummets to the ground and smacks open like an egg. So what if the song was a ballad. It was genuine and that is the only word that should define punk forever: genuine.
Endgame continues where Appeal to Reason left off: igniting revolutions in the hearts of those who know a better world exists…somewhere. Perhaps the bands best definition comes in the first song of the album “Architects”:
We still believe in all the things that we stood by before
And after everything we’ve seen here maybe even more
I know we’re not the only ones, and we were not the first
And unapologetically we’ll stand behind each word
Of course, the message wouldn’t be as impactful if it were wrapped in a choir of crap. Once again though, Rise Against backs their virtues with solid, punchy instrumentation. A knack for clever hooks hasn’t gone unnoticed either over the band’s career and if they were ever guilty of being “poppy”, it would be in the unforgettable choruses that anchor many of the better songs on their albums. Yet again, in this, Endgame is no different. “Help is On the Way”, “Satellite” and “Midnight Hands” root themselves in your cerebellum (the end of “Make it Stop”s chorus was screaming in my head for days). Their station in music is mature and confident. They found what writer’s would call “their voice” two albums ago and now write songs in any key or tempo they choose. If it was ever a concern, the threat of not sounding punk enough has long been forsaken by this band. They are genuine rebels composing anthems for still-born revolutions. It’s punk with a purpose, defiant to the apathetic. They raise a fist instead of a middle finger and, as creatively as they can, try to wake you the fuck up.
I won’t lie, I was told of the rising Rise Against long before the success of The Sufferer and The Witness and more recently of course Appeal To Reason. Without excuses, I ignored the warnings, so I come to you as a billboard fan.
Rise Against is back with their latest release Broken Mirrors… starts out groove laden and
by the end of the song, it’s the same old Rise Against formula. The opening track “Architects” is high-paced, rip roaring track with guts and progressive glories.
The lead radio single is a catchy tune named “Help Is On The Way”. Much like their previous radio successes, they sacrifice a bit of grit at times. Though the bridge about 2 minutes into the song is aggressive and without concern for radio format. Whether or not that is left unedited on your local radio station is the question. “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” is more of the watered down variety and without an interesting hook. “Disparity By Design” is the classic R.A. form, constant brigade and pace.
After four thorough listens, my final summation is of mediocre recommendations. This is a release that will have to grow on me, as I was not able to find an immediate favorite. I’ve been fooled before, so perhaps a revisit of my review in six months will be required.