Rise Against has been a staple in the punk community since their Fat Wreck debut, The Unraveling, released in 2001. Since then, they’ve become Warped Tour heavyweights, signed to a major label, and have clawed their way into the hearts of many. Now, with the release of their fourth studio album (and the second off of Geffen), The Sufferer & The Witness, Rise Against (vocalist Tim McIlrath, bassist Joe Principe, guitarist Chris Chasse, and drummer Brandon Barnes) touches back on their roots while still progressing forward. Produced by their old friend, Bill Stevenson, Sufferer offers 13 tracks of some of the best songs Rise Against have ever written, as well as throwing us a few curveballs.
“Chamber The Cartridge” kicks off the album with a marching drum beat and a menacing riff that rips into a blistering punk rock anthem. This opener is the perfect blend of raw and melody, as this song shows that RA is not holding anything back. “Injection” begins with a forcing riff that leads into McIlrath’s rough vocals. The first single, “Ready To Fall” is an emphatic track that is carried by Principe’s driving bass and McIlrath’s shredding vocals in the powerful chorus. “Bricks” is a vintage fast pace Rise Against song that clocks in at just over a minute and half long. “Under The Knife” begins with Chasse’s hard-hitting guitar tone and the chorus flows cleanly between the slower verses. “Prayer Of The Refugee” begins by building up the verses slowly, only to kick you in the gut with the bombastic chorus. “Drones” is a soaring fist-pumper that’ll sure get the circle pit going at the next Rise Against show. We get our first changeup from the band with the At The Drive-In inspired spoken word rant known as “The Approaching Curve.” McIlrath speaks his poetry over a driving riff and thumping drums, which lead into the rising and commanding chorus. “Worth Dying For” is a track that incorporates the past with the present, as the verses are fast and in your face, while the chorus is a display of the mainstream scene Rise Against has come into. They balance these two factors very well throughout the track. “Behind Closed Doors” is another edgy track that beats you up, while “Roadside” is this albums “Swing Life Away,” minus the sappiness. Darker and more haunting, “Roadside” is another risky track coming from Rise Against, but their execution on the track is done very well. The pace picks up again with “The Good Left Undone,” an energetic track that’ll burn through your ear canal. The album closes with “Survive,” which begins with a moody guitar riff and crashing cymbals. Then Rise Against changes lanes and turn up the tempo with a scorching guitar riff and a rhythm section driving at break neck speed. The chorus is huge, McIlrath’s vocals dominate, and Rise Against shuts the door vigorously on Sufferer, leaving you to you catch your breath from this stunning album.
Rise Against broke into the mainstream with the success of Siren Song Of The Counter Culture, and with The Sufferer & The Witness, they have perfected their sound, making an album full of songs that can make them huge without compromising their beliefs and music. With their feet still firmly planted in the roots of punk, Rise Against continue to make music that appeals to both the underground and mainstream crowds. This Independence Day, go out and purchase this fine album, as The Sufferer & The Witness is sure to impress and be a staple on many “best of” lists.