Hardcore without metal.
Punk without pop.
Emotion without the friggin' whining.
Rise Against's 2001 release The Unraveling seemed to literally come out of nowhere.
I had some interest, primarily because I heard that a significant proportion of the band were from
88 Fingers Louie. But in all honesty, I wasn't looking forward to it as much as some other records
coming out that year.
However, The Unraveling was a completely surprising debut. It was a strong, original
melodic hardcore record, puctuated by a uniquely heavy rhythm section, and Tim's standout
Well, Revolutions Per Minute easily tops The Unraveling.
To begin, it's a lot darker than their debut; lyrically and melodically. While their previous
record had more upbeat and nearly poppy passages, Revolutions... seems to spend much of it's
37 minutes in a simultaneously furious and reflective place. It feels more honest, and personal, and
achieves a real catharsis. It certainly comes from a familiar place; double-tempo guitars, those
heavy Fat-produced guitars, speedy vocals, but it ends up somewhere different altogether.
Tracks like "Black Masks & Gasoline" and "Amber Changing" play off a emotional punk sense, while
other songs like "Dead Ringer" and "To the Core" are almost pure raging hardcore. It's apparent that
the band is writing more as a unit now, and it comes through in the seamless bridges between
vocals and instrumentation.
While the band is clearly coming from a hardcore and punk background, it genuinely doesn't sound
like anything I've heard. Many people have tried to blend punk and hardcore like this, but mostly
we end up with the weakest bits of hardcore, and the weakest bits of punk, kind of mashed together.
Instead, on "Revolutions..." we get an impressive sense of melody with a really visceral hardcore edge.
The surprise, and possibly in-joke of the record is of course, a cover of a ultra hair metal
track by Journey called "Anyway You Want It." Best known (at least to me) as that song from
the Simpsons with Rodney Dangerfield, Rise Against manages to play it perfectly, it's not
even in double-time as is the norm with Fat covers. It's a nice
refrain after the overall darkness of the record, and even it's cheese metal origins don't
detract from the earnestness of the record.
I can say this: Revolutions Per Minute is easily among the best records
you'll hear this year. A perfect blend of hardcore and melodic punk, without any of the
usual trappings of the genre.