Remembering the good stuff
A Review on Rise Against’s new CD
Article: Liam Fitz-Gerald – Contributor
Next summer, Rise Against will celebrate fifteen years together as a band. The Chicago group, composed of singer Tim McIlrath, drummer Brandon Barnes, guitarist Zach Blair and bassist Joe Principe, has stated that a new record is coming in 2014. Until then, they’ve released this wonderful collection of B-sides to whet our appetites.
This record consists of two types of songs: B-sides and cover songs. The songs cover the band’s fourteen-year period, ranging from the punkier The Unravelling epoch in 1999 to the more alternative rock/hardcore punk influenced Endgame album released in 2011. As Rise Against has had many guitar players since 1999, the listener will hear the different guitarists and their styles. Older fans will hear tracks featuring former guitarists Mr. Precision and Chris Chasse. In a sense, this record serves as a “marathon” of the band’s different styles and eras, right before a new release.
The album opens with the thunderous “Historia Calamitatum.” This action-packed song sets the tone for the album and it does not disappoint. It is a B-side from the 2008 album Appeal to Reason released in 2008, when the United States entered into the worst recession since the Great Depression. This song captures the spirit of the album in sound. Lyrically and thematically, it is a little different. While Appeal to Reason seemed to emphasize a call to action against coming ecological and political disaster, the song has a bit of a hopeful twang to it. Despite its gloominess, it also emphasizes that individuals and communities can rise above disasters thrown at them.
Long-time fans of the band will recognize alternate versions of old favorites like “Give It All,” and “Ever-changing.” Other B-sides that stand out include “Lanterns” from Endgame, and several songs released on various Fat Wreck Chords compilations like “Generation Lost,” and “Join the Ranks.” There is something from the B-side collection to satisfy fans from every era of Rise Against’s history.
The covers on the album are great as well. However, long time Nirvana fans may have to get used to McIlrath’s take on “Silver” which doesn’t quite fit his voice like it did Kurt Cobain’s. It grows on you though. Punk and Hardcore fans will appreciate covers of Sick of It All’s “Built to Last,” Face to Face’s “Blind” and Minor Threat’s “Minor Threat.” However, the band steps outside their comfort zones and tackle many types of songs. Their take on “Making Christmas” from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas is nostalgic in two ways–mid 2000’s Rise Against and Tim Burton’s iconic film. It doesn’t get much better than that. Covers also include songs from Bruce Springsteen, Journey and the theme song from the TV show Weeds. Yet, the best cover they do is of Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown.” When Bob Dylan wrote it in the 1960s, it was an era of civil disobedience, protest and fights for greater civic rights. For a political band like Rise Against, the song is certainly appropriate, as is their punk approach mixed with the folk spirit that Dylan inspired.
Is this album worth purchasing? The answer is a clear and resounding yes. Rise Against is a band that gets better with age. Rise Against is not afraid to step outside comfort zones and try new things, something many punk bands —maybe in fear of being labeled “sellouts” —should try. The listener should hear this record as a chance to hear the evolution of a band, from beginning to end.