Rise Against - Appeal to Reason (Cover Artwork)

Rise Against

Appeal to Reason (2008)


The fifth album from the Chicago-based Rise Against, Appeal to Reason initially put me off due to the excessive amount of boring filler, but after a couple spins, it stands up better than first realized: There's Tim McIlrath's passionate vocals, as always; Joe Principe's creative basslines are back in full force; and even when he's not barreling away at full speed, Brandon Barnes continues to beat the living shit out of his drum kit.

The first song, "Collapse" rips, living up to the Rise Against tradition of great opening tracks. "Long Forgotten Sons," however, is a prime example of the problem that plagues roughly a third of the songs here. Sure, it's mid-paced, but Rise Against always redeemed their more boring songs with good choruses. But this one is just stale. The exact same thing happens on "From Heads Unworthy," "The Strength to Go On" and "Hairline Fracture."

"The Dirt Whispered" was the first song that really surprised me. Instead of speeding melodicore or downbeat rock, it's bouncy pop-punk, as is "Savior." The good thing is, it's not contrived. They're both heartfelt, energetic songs, like those on Revolutions Per Minute.

"Kotov Syndrome" and "Entertainment" are also a great songs, with blazing tempos and soaring harmonies. "Hero of War" is acoustic, and will probably be the next single. However, this is no "Swing Life Away." The lyrics personify a well-intentioned American soldier in a classy, intelligent manner, protesting our wars without coming off didactic or disrespectful. Honestly, it sounds like a classic in the vein of CCR. If they're really about to become huge radio hits, I can't think of a better way.

I wish the album ended with "Savior," because "Whereabouts Unknown" sounds like a wretched cross between "Amber Changing" and a Killswitch Engage song. Tim screaming: "Even together, we stand APAAAARRT!!!!" is cringeworthy. I wish this would have been an eight-song EP, really. The good songs are really good and the bad songs are really bad.

Even though I've heavily criticized it, I'm going to give this release a 6. I'm glad I got the pre-release so I could collect my thoughts on it for an honest evaluation. As always, the well-designed booklet is littered with insightful quotes. And the Blasting Room production, Chad Price backups and recycled packaging and vegetable inks are really cool. Rise Against continue to make powerful music in an ever-cheapening music industry. And this being the release that fulfills their Geffen contract, they might head back to Fat or Epitaph soon.