Rise Against have been at the forefront of the rock scene for a long time now. This is a band that came onto the scene and from the outset sent a very clear message. Since their inception the band has pushed the boundaries through their sound and lyrics and has been applauded for maintaining that integrity throughout their career, and their 2017 release titled ‘Wolves’ follows that pattern.
From the outset of this album you can clearly tell that the band means business. Tracks like opener ‘Wolves’, and ‘The Violence’ and ‘Miracle’, really do a great job of engaging the listener from the outset, and engage in a sort of rallying cry to unify everyone. With choruses that rouse their listeners, these songs are sure to motivate and it’s through the harmonies in both the latter tracks that they truly excel as songs that fell familiar, but are also intrinsically different to anything the band has served before.
While Wolves has some songs which are quite different, the upbeat punk rock style sound the band is known for is still present with more classical sound tracks like ‘Welcome to the Breakdown’ and ‘Parts Per Million’. Having that fast paced, drum-led beat leading the tracks is the formula the band has been kicking ass with for so long now and it’s great to see that they aren’t shying away from continuing to include it in their album on these tracks.[metalwani_content_ad]
‘Politics of Love’ seems like the sort of ballad track that will not only become a commercial success, but is very clearly designed to have a long-lasting playing power with an engaging melody, softer mid-section and an everlastingly catchy chorus. This will become a staple ballad-esque song in their live performances and is sure to become a big sing along each and every time it is played.
One of the highlights for me every time I hear new Rise Against is always to see the different ranges that Tim Mcilrath can reach with his voice. On this occasion there is a very wide variety that he fleetingly works and it’s quite phenomenal to see that after so long he can still nail that gravelly hoarse cry that he is well-known for, while also providing the soothing and calmer clean sections. His vocals here feel more developed than on The Black Market and Endgame, and it’s refreshing to listen to.
Lyrically Wolves is a further growth on the band’s already well established history of anti-establishment sentiments, but as has been seen over their last three releases it seems like there has been more of a depth towards a global, perhaps even somewhat earthly perspective on the world and its problems. Of particular note on Wolves are tracks ‘How Many Walls’, ‘Wolves’ and ‘Welcome to the Breakdown’ which are quite politically charged and clearly have direct connotations to the outcome of the recent United States election. There is a passion in the lyrics for these songs which is unrivaled and they are surely going to hit some chords with their listeners.
While there is that high level of lyrical delivery in some of their songs, I also feel that there appears to be a slight deficiency in some other songs with some cliché or more streamlined lyrics used. This was particularly prevalent in a track like ‘Far From Perfect’, and is honestly what I would describe as a pitfall that can be attributed to the band being exceptional over their career by continually delivering lyrical content to a very high degree and not necessarily hitting that mark on this track. When you get a song like this which is still delivered well, but not at that pinnacle that you expect from the band, means it feels like it’s weaker, and even though it’s still an awesome track, it just feels below the pedigree of its predecessors.
Production wise this album feels very fresh with the ratio of instruments amongst themselves, and instruments to vocals being relatively well-balanced, but given that production was managed by Grammy Award winning producer Nick Raskulinecz there was never going to be any doubt that the production would be anything less than impressive.
I thoroughly enjoyed this album but note that it is nothing massively innovative or varied from their previous releases. As a whole package this album is definitely a clear advancement on the band’s well established sound and is sure to enthrall its listeners, and kept me engaged through several listens through. If you’re looking at sticking it to the man, then Wolves can definitely be your soundtrack and is definitely an album to get behind.