Rise Against - Rise Against [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)

Rise Against

Rise Against [7-inch] (2009)

Fat Wreck Chords

Like most bands that "get big," sign to a major and ascend from the bowels of punk rock-dom, Rise Against get a fair bit of criticism these days, and not all of it is unfounded. After the precise and refreshing melodic hardcore of their first two Fat Wreck Chords full-lengths, Siren Song of the Counter Culture began the world domination campaign with some fantastic songs, some generic songs, and an overproduced and disappointing guitar sound. The Sufferer and the Witness, meanwhile, was far more satisfying and attempted to remedy these faults, though it was not without a few cheesy and unnecessary moments ("The Approaching Curve" and its ridiculous spoken-word verses in particular).

2008's Appeal to Reason, the latest full-length, seemed even more geared toward mainstream adulation--alternative rock songs like "Audience of One" sat alongside acoustic ballad "Hero Of War", the pop-punk of "The Dirt Whispered" and even a couple of genuinely good, fast, hardcore-esque tracks like "Collapse (Post-Amerika)." Nevertheless, the direction did not seem a postive one, and new material was anticipated with dread and uncertainty.

And that's when, last year, fans of the band at their best were cautiously optimistic when Fat Wreck announced this 7" EP as an apparent result of the band "losing a bet" to Fat Mike (he also gets their firstborn children it seems...). Whatever the reason, the release features the two remaining songs from the Appeal to Reason sessions (one on each side)...and it's brilliant!

THIS is what Rise Against should sound like--furious bass, dirty and distorted guitars, and Tim's voice stripped back to its old fury. Side A, "Grammatizator" sounds straight off of Revolutions Per Minute, powering through with gang-vocal shouts and a speedy guitar solo in just over two minutes. At a similar length, "Voice of Dissent" maintains the sound and style with slightly more melody--and showcases Tim's scream in a way we haven't heard in too long.

The production on both is much more akin to the Chicago band's old stuff, and represents a real return to the feel of their Fat Wreck legacy whilst demonstrating the maturity and proficiency they have acquired since then.

Just when things seemed to point toward the end, Rise Against prove they can still play music that matters with this four-minute, three-second powerhouse. The new album might be the worst yet and the Nickelback comparisons might increase in bitterness, but just for a moment it feels like the band who once wrote masterpieces is still in there fighting to get out.