Rise Against - Nowhere Generation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rise Against

Nowhere Generation (2021)

loma vista

It feels good to be alive in a time where some of my favourite high-school bands are still kicking ass. Thursday and My Chemical Romance are about to tour again, AFI's doing their thing and so too are Rise Against. Despite whatever criticisms I've had of these bands, I guess as you grow older -- me being mid-30's -- introspection has me (thankfully) less bitter and even liking some of their material which didn't quite hit the mark. Maturity? Acceptance? Don't know but I guess my taste, gauges and so many more things I judge music on change year by year, experience by experience. And make no mistake, Rise Against doesn't even need a "nostalgic free pass", so to speak, because Nowhere Generation doesn't just fit the current sociopolitical climate message-wise, it's spot on musically.

I've learned to let go of comparing their music per specific album, instead just grouping things into the new and old era. And while I've really dumped on their modern music, I must say this record has me going back through the catalog and appreciating them a lot more. Granted, it's not the most perfect RA direction, but songs like "Sudden Urge", "Rules of Play" and the title-track are all accessible anthems made to win over new fans. This time, it's more refined a mainstream sound, crafted with poppier purpose in a sense and resonating a bit more with the burn-the-system narrative. I guess I'm a tad generous as right now, I do love music that encourages protests and standing up for what's right, which admittedly is something they've never shied away from.

But while those are the more mild-mannered songs in terms of quality, RA proceed to deliver a chunk of some of their best music, period. "Broken Dreams, Inc." is such a banger, I can already see fans going nuts live. It follows in the vein of the opener "The Numbers" which sets the stage so well and really highlights how great the band are when blending alternative with melodic punk. Seriously, some parts remind me of A Wilhelm Scream with dynamic licks, bouncy choruses and frantic kit work just being the icing on the cake. It's amazing how hooky, shout-along and poppy these tracks are, yet punk as fuck. And the tempo changes, they're chef's kiss, as they switch it up from Quicksand at times, to, well, vintage RA.

Vocalist Tim McIlrath must be given credit as well, as his voice -- and overall production -- is as tight as ever. Technically, I found their last couple albums lacking, feeling too generic and polished, but it's a much better balance now. Even on the acoustic "Forfeit", it has a magic and warmth to it that feels raw, yet something you can tell they fine-toothed in the studio. Again, glazing these musical chapters with the overt ethos of rebellion and breaking illusion of control will really sate loyalists and leave you hoping Tim continues to do this thing, even on solos or side projects with friends like Geoff Rickly and such, because he does feel inspired and reborn again. You can also tell within a first few seconds of many songs (such as "Monarch" and "Middle of a Dream") that they're gonna rip hard, which to me is a key ingredient RA lacked lately. Thankfully, they rectify all this with aplomb, never letting up and bringing back the magic of old so incessantly on these gems.

Full admission: I grew to dislike RA so much I gave away an Astonishing X-Men tee they collaborated on with Marvel, but now, I'm kicking myself I don't speak to the cousin anymore so I can get it back. That's how great this album is. More ups than downs, and honestly, the right approach to keep people pumped.