Appeal to Reason | Rise Against
Rise Against’s “Appeal to Reason” is one of the finest punk albums to be released in an exceptionally long time. They utilize all of the necessary punk elements—rollicking power chords, devastating drum beats and loud, fast, angry, pounding bass—but what truly characterizes Rise Against is their social consciousness and sense of urgency. It’s evident that every word and every note comes from the very soul of the band, and that sort of conviction is impossible to ignore.
“Appeal to Reason” is an excellent extension from Rise Against’s last album, “The Sufferer and the Witness,” and shows off a remarkable maturation from their first album, “Siren Song of the Counter Culture.” Unlike many punk bands, the extra production shows off Rise Against’s visceral sound and in many ways improves it. They are typically described as melodic hardcore, and that label is an apt description. While their sound is heavy, it’s also remarkably catchy. Each track has a mosh-and-sing-along quality to it. Singer and lead guitarist Tim McIlrath has a compelling voice, and his rich tone gives the album some aesthetic polish. Even when screaming, he eschews the yelping common in screamo and pop-punk bands in favor of an anthemic, revolutionary cry.
What really set this album apart is its social and political awareness as well as the deftness with which the lyrics treat these elements. The lyrics themselves are intricate, making skillful use of double meanings and evocative imagery. On “Kotov Syndrome,” McIlrath accuses, “you see the world through/ crosshairs and TVs, don’t you?” “Hero of War” mixes the same sort of cynicism with real empathy: “We beat him with guns/ and batons not just once/ But again and again/ A hero of war/ Yeah that’s what I’ll be… I’ll carry this flag/ to the grave if I must/ Because it’s a flag that I love…It’s the only flag I trust.” The album is reminiscent of the Dead Kennedys but with earnestness in place of sarcasm.
Among the issues tackled in “Appeal to Reason” are war, army brutality, the shallowness of the entertainment industry, government surveillance, redemption and the jaded hope of a new generation. Even the one love song, “Savior,” forgoes clichés to present a real and honest portrayal of a failing relationship. This is an inspiring album with its own sense of quiet grandeur.
Rise Against will be playing at the Pageant on November 16.
For fans of: Bad Religion, Dead Kennedys, Anti-Flag
Tracks to download: “Collapse (Post-Amerika),” “Savior,” “Kotov Syndrome”