Friday, June 14, 2024

Review: Rise Against – The Black Market

‘The Black Market‘ focuses on the cost of self-awareness. “Rise Against has always been a political band, but also a personal band,” says Tim (vocals/guitar). “We’ve always had songs that have a foot in both worlds. This album is a lot more introspective to me.” The intensely melodic strains of the first single: “I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore” is a case in point – riding a huge chorus and speaking of universal themes of entrapment and escape.

Rise Against’s latest offering has certainly been quite highly anticipated. Excluding their 2013 B-sides/covers release, ‘The Black Market’ is the Chigago melodic punkers’ first release since 2011’s ‘Endgame’, which received mixed reactions from long-time fans but did well with critics and new listeners. The polished sound of ‘Endgame‘ landed a fair way from previous releases, and ‘The Black Market‘ continues this trend of heading down a more melodic route – but their roots in the world of punk shine through. It’s clear from the first track, ‘The Great Die-Off’, that it’s certainly a Rise Against album, with a violin opening leading into a guitar riff fuelled track with Tim McIlrath’s signature vocals delivered with their usual fighting spirit.

As a teaser for what the new album had to offer, Tim and co. had already released ‘I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore’ as a single, and it’s a real highlight of the record, with high energy, powerful drums and twangy guitars. There’s also a few great contrasts with quieter moments, namely in the intro to the first chorus and towards the end of the track, where McIlrath’s refrain of “I don’t want to be here anymore” starkly rings out.

Rise Against

Since their early days, the band have definitely moved further towards the melodic side of the punk spectrum, and ‘Tragedy and Time’ is a prime example – an upbeat and bouncy tune with hopeful lyrics through to a rousing and ridiculously catchy chorus. ‘Sudden Life’ has a vague Foo Fighters-esque alt-rock sound in places, and is possibly one of the most ‘out of place’ songs on the album. Alone, it’s a good song and it’s interesting to see the guys experimenting, but it doesn’t quite sit right in places.

Rise Against have a reputation for putting across politicised lyrics in an accessible and listenable way that also often stays open to the listener’s interpretation, something which still comes through in ‘The Black Market‘. ‘Methadone’ has some particularly engaging songwriting, and ‘People Live Here’ feels incredibly personal in both lyrics and delivery. It’s the emotional ‘slow burner’ track akin to Appeal To Reason’s ‘Hero Of War’, with a beautiful instrumental, violin-led backing. However, for a track that feels like it’s building, the end feels like it tails off without the real climax the listener’s been waiting for.

As a whole album, ‘The Black Market’ doesn’t feel particularly groundbreaking as an album for the band – and to be honest, it’s not. But a lot of the individual tracks are really great. A few are forgettable, but as with anything Rise Against touch, it feels like a hell of a lot of heart has gone into the record – something that’s hard to ignore when you’re listening to them.

7.5/10

Rise Against ‘The Black Market’ is out now!

Milly Youngman
Milly Youngman
'Grown up' emo kid and pop punk lover (with plenty of everything else in the mix too). Life and style blogger at mini-adventures.com and former arts writer and editor.

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