It’s safe to say Rise Against is one of the top rock bands in North America. I can’t really vouch for over sees. The one time hardcore punk band-turned melodic punk band found a way in to our hearts with their angry yet melodic political statement songs, always one-upping themselves in popularity with each album. I’ve already given a rather long intro on the band on my previous review for their B-Sides collection Long Forgotten Songs, so without further wasting your time, I’ll get right in to their latest album The Black Market.
At this point in their career, one might wonder what Rise Against has in store for us. Diehard fans expect nothing but the best, and would likely think that no matter what they release. Sceptics will be judging every note they play, as they have throughout the bands past six albums. I however find myself in the middle of that.
The album starts off with promise. The Great Die-Off has a symphonic intro with well toned guitars playing with sounds of violin before blasting in to a hard beating less-than-happy Rise Against punk song. Then the albums lead single I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore furthers the promise of the album. Both songs sound like Rise Against matching their best and at first listen the dynamic energy of the songs are sure to please any fan and fend off newcomers opinions from thinking anything negative of the band. Then the upbeat of Tragedy + Time shows a slightly different side of the band, practically making a pop-punk song reminiscent of late-90’s early-2000’s bands, but with that serious Rise Against edge to it.
The title track took a few listens to appreciate in any way. The same goes for a few other songs on the album. The song The Black Market has a melody that I still don’t really care for but is saved by Brandon Barnes’s drum beat. I started to realize the chorus of the song is a good one, despite the verses sounding a little uninspired musically. The Eco-Terrorist In Me fills a hardcore quota for the band to please the fans who miss the early days, I suppose. The structure of the song has been done; it’s really not hard to make a super fast song with harsh vocals (Tim McIlrath still sounds great throughout the album) and have slower moments to emphasize the important lyrics. But it is hard to make a song like this and not make it sound like something you’ve heard before, which is why in the end this song can fall out of mind, but the album still wouldn’t be the same without it.
Before the album takes a slight nose-dive, there is one song on the album that stands out over just about every Rise Against song to date. Sudden Life, easily (and I guess obviously) my favourite song on The Black Market, is a heartfelt and inspiring song that captures the essence of enjoying life and not wasting it. The song isn’t a punk song in any way, which helps it stand out further. If you read the open-for-interpretation lyrics of the song without music, it can sound a little corny, but the music to the song is far from it. The song could have easily been a softer light hearted song, but that’s not what the band went for.
Now when I said “nose-dive” in the previous paragraph, I didn’t mean to make it sound so intense. What I mean is that despite A Beautiful Indifference’s great intro and its exceptional chorus, it doesn’t sound like anything new by the band. Methadone (frankly the best of the four songs that follow Sudden Life) starts off better than it ends, but it does have a few moments in the song that sound like they’ve been very much done by the band. Zero Visibility sounds more like the band is trying to make a statement rather than make a song and Awake Too Long again sounds like songs the band has done before. The more I listen to these songs, the more I like them, so I’m not saying they are bad songs, but with each listen I always remember my initial impressions of the songs and I still agree with them.
The album ends with a couple of standout tracks on the album, which is the best way to end any album. People Live Here is an acoustic song with string arrangements in the background. It has also kind of been done before in the form of Hero of War, but where Hero of War was written to sound like a song that could be the soundtrack to a war movie, People Live Here is more a standard acoustic song. In fact I’d say it’s a little more similar to Swing Life Away, just not as upbeat. I think it’s because it hasn’t been done to death that I don’t mind this song, though I think people will agree Hero of War and Swing Life Away are the better songs.
The last song on The Black Market, Bridges, is a fast number, one of the fastest, if not the fastest, paced song on the album. This time around Rise Against really seemed to be concentrating on making the whole song sound great, with its changes in pace, its melodies, its guitar riffs. There is no better song to have ended the album with because for a listener like me (and a couple of others that I’ve spoken to) who thought the band may have had their best days behind them, Bridges shows that to be a potentially false statement.
There is no contest that The Black Market doesn’t stand up to any of its recent predecessors. In my personal opinion, since the bands Siren Sounds of the Counter Culture, each album has little by little sounded less good than the album that came before it, though I know 99% of fans would disagree with that. I think the unanimous favourite album by the band is Appeal to Reason. I can’t really see anyone picking this album over Appeal to Reason. But like I said, Rise Against are one of the top rock bands in North America, they still have many great days and hopefully many great songs ahead of them. The Black Market just simply put isn’t their best.
“I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore” – While it falls under the “it’s all been done” category of the albums songs, The Black Market’s leading single was a good choice because while it sounds like it’s been done, it still matches some of Rise Against’s best songs. It may not be on par with Savior or Prayer of the Refugee but it can still go up on a list of their best songs.
7 (Out of 10)
|“The Great Die-Off”||3:39|
|“I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore”||3:59|
|“Tragedy + Time”||4:17|
|“The Black Market”||4:15|
|“The Eco-Terrorist In Me”||2:45|
|“A Beautiful Indifference”||3:24|
|“Awake Too Long”||3:11|
|“People Live Here”||4:08|