Words About Music
Rise Against “The Black Market”
I have a confession to make. There was a time during middle school and early high school where I liked Rise Against. How could I help it? They were a decent band that I heard on the radio during those formative years where I was getting into punk and hard rock, but before I knew the difference between corporate radio rock and subversive politically-inclined punk music. And don’t get me wrong, Rise Against is, or tries to be, a very political band. They sing about injustices in American government, but they do so in such an unclear and imagery-heavy way that it’s kind of hard to form an opinion based on their lyrics. And yes, it’s only gotten worse.
On their seventh studio album, “The Black Market,” pathos is at an all-time high in place of political cynicism or any shred of a decent or thought-provoking lyric. It’s a dumbed down hard rock record that, at certain points, is reminiscent of Nickelback. Maybe Rise Against has always been like this and I’m just growing up, but the band that once at the very least could write a catchy chorus has now written 12 equally forgettable songs. Plus, I mean, LOOK at that album cover.
There are certain things about Rise Against that could be considered potentially good. Tim McIlrath is a good singer and the band members seem to be good musicians. The only problem is that all of that energy is put into making songs that sound like they should be making some sort of statement, but mostly rely on fire, death, and sadness. Fill in the blanks. It’s not an album that puts modern punk to shame as there are plenty of great punk bands that currently exist. But if they get consistent airplay on KROQ, it’s probably not one of them.
Did I think that “The Black Market” could be a good album? Maybe. Last time Rise Against put an album out I still considered them at least a decent band. I mean “Help Is On the Way” and “Make It Stop” were at least catchy songs with big choruses. On this album, though, there’s nothing like that. I think it’s time Rise Against called it quits, or at the very least left Interscope so they could maybe try and put out something more creative. These days, three-chord punk is uninteresting and uncool, unless of course your name is Keith Morris and the name of your band is OFF! But considering that the best modern punk bands are either conceptual, like Titus Andronicus and Fucked Up!, or lyrically intricate and thought-provoking like nearly any post-hardcore/screamo band associated with the emo revival. Rise Against has potential for greatness, but they peaked a long time ago and need to chill.
SCORE – 1.0
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