Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rise Against - Endgame Review

Rise Against have always been known for their outspoken demeanor and progressive beliefs. So when it came time to release Endgame, the band's sixth studio album, fans and critics alike expected a record that would bring to the table both the band's musical talent and political message.

And Rise Against do not disappoint. Endgame stands as probably their most powerful record to date.

Musically, the album is driven by distorted guitars and a deep, but always present, bass. In other words, Endgame sounds exactly like the music Rise Against fans are used to. The Chicago outfit's deep hardcore roots naturally shine through, but the record never loses its catchiness.

The album is jam packed with hooks throughout the many soaring choruses. Endgame never takes the time to slow down. Every song has a fast paced, in-your-face, type of rhythm to it. On a whole, the record rounds out nicely between the screams and melodies.

But perhaps the most important and driving factor of Endgame isn't exactly the music, but rather the lyrical content. Making their mark as one of the scene's leading politically influenced bands, it was a given that Rise Against would once again put out a record that challenges government ideals and the like.

But Endgame doesn't just take the path of changing a political ideology. The record is more of a cry for social change in the United States. While the track listing includes titles like, "Survivor Guilt" and "Architects" that undoubtedly take a political stance, it's the other tracks that bring to light some of the darkest and most damning qualities present in America today.

Take for instance "Make It Stop (September's Children)" - a scathing attack on the bullying and teen suicide stories of 2010. Behind a chorus of children, lead singer Tim McIlrath recants the names and ages of a few teens who took their own lives last year due to bullying.

The record's first single, "Help Is On The Way", walks the listener through many of the disasters that have plagued the southeastern region of the US in recent years, including the Gulf oil spill and New Orleans Katrina disaster. In a way, the track acts as a retelling of the stories through the eyes of those with firsthand accounts.

The integrity of this record really does lie within its message. Each one of the 12 tracks tackles another issue with enough energy and emotion to really get you thinking. Endgame is a mosaic of sorts - each individual song representing its own social ill, but when taken as a whole, presents itself as a glaring view of a much bigger problem.

But, as with any Rise Against record, a glimmer of hope remains present. There's always a sense that better days are ahead if a little hard work is put in to correcting our problems. Overall, Endgame is as punk-rock as punk-rock gets. Fast, loud and in-your-face with a message, Rise Against have perfected their craft with this release.

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