Rise Against

Wolves

Written by: PP on 22/08/2017 23:02:23

Wow, I knew Trump being elected was going to energize the punk scene into the resistance movement that it was during the Bush years, but who knew Rise Against would return to form in such a triumphant way as they do on "Wolves". Folks, this is "The Sufferer & The Witness" level material through and through, something I didn't think the band had in them anymore despite how strong "The Black Market" was three years ago. It's the rawest and most aggressive Rise Against album since their career masterpiece a decade ago, guaranteed to relaunch them as the go-to band for the leadership of the politically charged punk rock rebellion they made so relevant back in 2006.

They haven't changed much soundwise: we're still firmly in melodic hardcore-infused punk rock. The tempo, however, has been upped considerably from "Appeal To Reason" and "Endgame". Where softer songs were the rule not the exception on both, the opposite is true on "Wolves". "Mourning In Amerika" is arguably the only track qualifying as a radio-friendly single to play your girlfriend as an introduction to the band, and even here, the chorus melody is pure bliss not to even mention its political implication. The rest? Rough edges, aggressive tempo, and high-energy punk rock of the variety that made this band in the first place. Simply put, the spirit and angry rebellion that was missing on their past couple of albums are back with a bang, accompanied by a fiery political message with brilliant lyricism that's drenched in constant metaphor but it's not hard to guess what it's about:

"When we all go deaf in the chamber of echoes / Cheering the missile parade / agreeing to let all the banks rob the people / Together we circle the drain"

"There's something in the water / There must be something in the air / Just 'cause I can't put my finger on it / It doesn't mean that - that it's not there / Yeah, we are all turned on / But then we all tuned out / As we are hypnotized by the sparkling lies / We fall under their spell"

Particularly the latter quote from "Parts Per Million" isn't explicitly about the rise of far-right populism, but the message between the lines reads clear. Similarly, the ferocious punk rock of "Welcome To The Breakdown" absolutely explodes out the gate like the good old days, and as the title suggests, the song expresses a real worry about the world falling apart from several angles at once.

When you couple the more thematic messages with individual catch phrases that immediately stick to your permanent memory, well those are the signs of a classic album. It can be anything as simple as the desperate howl of "How is it a thing, that we just wanna hurt each other?" on "House On Fire", or the constant repetitions of "Yeah, I should've said something" on "Politics Of Love", that connect with the listener, or alternatively, some of the more philosophical introspection like this quote found on "Bullshit":

"And we are separated only by divisions and the walls that we create / But we are more alike than different when we stop and take a minute face to face / They say we're divided / And we are conquered [...] So we scale the walls and fire escapes / A wheat paste brush and cans of paint / To cover up your walls with something new"

Either way, there are far more lines to highlight here than room in this review. That's a great sign. Combined with "Wolves" being rawer, heavier, faster, and more aggressive than the past three albums, this is the Rise Against we remember from their breakthrough album "The Sufferer & The Witness". You'll not have heard Tim McIlrath scream with as much passion and throaty edge as he does on the title track since those days - and that pattern repeats throughout the album. Song after song, the melodies are brilliant, the message subtly embedded within the subtext of the lyrics, and the energy undeniable. This is how album of the year candidates sound like in this genre.

9

Download: Wolves, Bullshit, House On Fire, Parts Per Million, Mourning In Amerika
For the fans of: Authority Zero, Bad Religion, Anti-Flag, Propagandhi, Strike Anywhere, Ignite, Good Riddance, The Shell Corporation
Listen: Facebook

Release date 09.06.2017
Virgin

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