Rise Against - The Black Market (Cover Artwork)

Rise Against

The Black Market (2014)


With the release of their seventh album, Rise Against continued on their path of becoming less of a punk rock band and more of a modern rock band. There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but the problem here WAS that the songs just aren’t very good. From the album opener “The Great Die-Off” and single “I Don’t Want to be Here Anymore”, it WAS clear that this album WAS going to be short on substance, and big on cheap hooks and studio spit-shine.

Rise Against has now been on a major label for OVER 10 years and they’ve used this platform to release some quality music to a larger audience. But as is the case with almost every punk band that has the opportunity to take advantage of major label budgets, Rise Against has reached the point where they rely on studio production to mask uninspired songwriting. The songs on The Black Market are of the caliber where it would be shocking if one of these tracks didn’t end up in a car commercial sometime soon. While it's likely that a track or two is about an important issue like LGBT rights or animal cruelty, the energy and passion just don’t translate. Many people didn’t like the polished sound of Endgame, but Rise Against seems to up the ante with The Black Market; these songs have all the grit of a bar of soap.

The title track at least mixes it up a bit with some interesting tempo changes, but it’s clear that the days of Fat Wreck-style punk are far behind these guys. “Sudden Life” sounds like a sped-up U2 and “A Beautiful Indifference” could almost be a slightly punked-up Pearl Jam cover.

“People Live Here” is a melodramatic mess that would sound more authentic without the maudlin strings. As far as the requisite Rise Against acoustic ballad goes, “Swing Life Away” (from Siren Song…) and even the sappy “Hero of War” (from Appeal to Reason) were much stronger.

Singer Tim McIlrath continues to become more self-indulgent in his vocal delivery. That weird way in which he delivers words like “behind” as “be-high-and” and “flame” as “flay-um” seems to become more pronounced with each album, to the point where it is really distracting and super annoying.

These songs simply can’t stand on their own. Even on repeated listens, there’s very little material on this album that is memorable.