Rise Against – Endgame
Record Label: DGC / Interscope Records
Release Date: March 15th, 2011
Rise Against is one of those bands that I wish I had gotten into a lot sooner. I’ve heard of them for a very long time, but I never checked them out until last summer when Best Buy had a promotion for a few weeks of certain records being on sale. Rise Against’s last record Endgame was one of them, and I had been very curious about them, so I figured I’d pick it up for about $4.99. That’s a great deal, if you ask me, and I don’t regret my decision at all. Simply put, this is one of the best records I’ve ever heard. I’m sure if I picked it up in 2011 when it was released, it would’ve one of my favorite records of the year, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be one of my favorites. Sadly, though, a few weeks after I bought it, I took it off my iPod, because a lot of other records came out at the time, so I put this on hold, essentially. Now that I’m going back to it again, I’m getting into it hard. This record is absolutely wonderful, and this one of those records where almost every song absolutely nails it. In a world where music is becoming more about image and less about actual talent, Rise Against is one of those bands that decides to make a statement and is one of the few bands who’s quite popular but for all the right reasons, those reasons being meaningful lyrics, and a great overall sound.
The record begins with “Architects,” and immediately, it kicks off with a guitar riff from guitarist Zach Blair, and I just know that this song (and album) is going to be good. About fifteen seconds in, vocalist/lyricist Tim McIlrath vocals kick in, and oh my, his voice is one of the strongest that I’ve ever heard. He may not have too much of a range but for punk, that’s not the most important thing. The passion in his voice is what’s most apparent to me, however. Going back to the opening track, I absolutely love the bridge of this track. McIlrath’s vocals dominate, along with some chanting, too. This is a great opening track, and really gets things going. Second track “Help Is On the Way” is what I mean about their meaningful lyrics, too; every song does have a very fantastic meaning to it, but this song certainly has a more straightforward message here. This is also a very aggressive track, too; it’s not heavy, but just continues on the same path that “Architects” was going. The same can be said for the rest of the album, minus a few “standout” tracks here and there. “Help Is On the Way” does feature a few screams in the bridge, though, and this leads me to something interesting, actually – very few bands use harsh vocals sparingly anymore, and Rise Against is one band that does. McIlrath screams very few times on this record, and when he does, even more emotion and passion are brought to the table. If you want emotion, though, look no further than third track “Make It Stop (September’s Children).” This is the lead single from the album, and the most popular track from the record, too; this song is known for having a very striking anti-bullying message. This song absolutely delivers because it’s not overly preachy, but instead, hits you right to your core, especially the chorus. This song definitely is a very powerful song. It’ll be tough to top this song, but Rise Against certainly manage it.
Fourth track “Disparity By Design” is a really cool track, because there’s a really awesome guitar riff thanks to Blair, and it’s weaved throughout the song. Other than that, this track isn’t forgettable, but it just really doesn’t do a lot for me, and that’s how I feel about a few songs on it. No song on here is awful, and as a whole, it’s great, but there are a few songs that just don’t really do anything from me. “Disparity By Design” is one song that also does feature some screaming, too, which does make it a bit more memorable, because as I mentioned earlier, screamed vocals aren’t used too much on here, which is good. Fifth track “Satellite” is a great track as well, but this is where the album starts to sort of get rather stale. Not to say it’s awful, but things sort of just blend together a bit and that’s really the only complaint I have with this record. Everything is great, but the middle of the record kind of blends together. They’ve got a very unique sound, but every song sounds quite similar from the last. There are a few tracks in the middle that stand out, however; one of which is seventh track “Survivor’s Guilt.” Even the title is really interesting to me, because the whole concept of “survivor guilt” is when you’re in a dangerous situation and someone passes away instead of you, so you feel like you’re the reason they died, and you wish you could’ve taken their place. It’s a very common form of guilt and this song does touch on that. I love the bridge of this song, too, it becomes a flurry of McIlrath’s vocals just going on a barrage, and it’s great. This song definitely hits and it’s one of my favorites on the record, too.
As the record reaches the last third, a couple of songs really stand out to me, and one of which is “Wait for Me.” This song has a really nice chorus that does get stuck in my head when I listen to it. It’s simple, but it works, nonetheless. After the rather interesting “A Gentlemen’s Coup,” the last two tracks “This Is Letting Go” and title track “Endgame” are two very memorable tracks. The former is a very solid track with solid lyrics and instrumentation. There’s not much to it, really. The title track, though, is interesting because it’s the last song. That’s something I have not seen very much, but it makes things interesting, but it also works well. It takes the whole record and really sums it up in one song, and the album ends nicely as well. This album is fantastic, and really leaves a great taste in my mouth, so to speak, of course.