A blend between ambiguous anarchistic rebellion á la classical teenage angst with attempts to sound like Rage Against the Machine, Rise Against charges itself with a seemingly impossible task: in its newest album: how to get across the same emotions found in every other punk and hard rock album.
Predictably, the formula includes lots of angry screaming, packed lyrics and a drum beat that doesn’t let up. But where Rise Against managed to set itself aside in past albums with striking lyricism, heartfelt singing and the juxtaposition of hard rock vibes with more sensitive tones, Endgame creates a sound equally timid and predictably textbook.
Just glancing at the CD booklet explains a lot. The lyrics are packed into their squares and small messages are off to the side, suggesting works by Jonathan Safran Foer for the rebellion-happy listener to peruse later.
In the end, the band tries to stay genuine to the hard rock and punk genres by offering a plethora of thrashing sounds, but includes textbook hard rock sounds that leave the listener with little to hang on to. By not even including basic elements like guitar solos in the majority of their tracks, the guys fail to completely show off their musical talents and versatility. The entire album falls into a we’re-hard-rock rut so fully most tracks end up blending into each other.
“Satellite” at least offers engaging rhythms. But the listener is insulted with lyrics like She told me that she never could face the world again / So I offered up a plan: We’ll sneak out while they sleep. In comparison to tracks like “Savior” from the band’s 2008 album Appeal to Reason, which include lines like as the telling signs of age rain down, a single tear is dropping / through the valleys of an aging face that this world has forgotten, the song is bereft both of any original subject matter and of the emotionally engaging songwriting Rise Against is perfectly capable of crafting.
Aside from the intriguing punk beat found in “Satellite” and other tracks, most of the songs go on for too long.
“Disparity Design” is markedly mosh pit-friendly from the beginning and the guitar strikes some nice chords, but the track would’ve benefited from a guitar solo to break up the otherwise relentless noise.
“Architects” attempts to add variety with tempo and rhythm changes, but it is ultimately a fragmented, discordant track. This makes it difficult for the listener to get into the groove of the song, and its dramatic ending comes too abruptly.
“Midnight Hands” has metal-influenced chords that automatically reel the listener in. The track sounds more confident and the sound flows more freely. It’s a gutsy creation that makes you wonder how lead singer Tim McIlrath still has a functioning voice.
The shorter verses feel more meaningful, and instead of the usual punk rock classic man-versus-government lyrics, these words feel more sincere and mysterious. Sadly, this energy does not carry through the majority of the album.
Where the listener was once challenged to take a breath and digest everything in just the first few lines of a Rise Against track, this new album dumbs the listener down completely.
Though the album might appeal to your 14-year old brother, this isn’t the characteristically complex work the band is obviously capable of producing. The listener doesn’t need an onslaught of hard rock staples. It would just be nice to get the guys back.