Endgame is the 6th studio album from Chicago based punk protesters Rise Against. Now I’m not going to lie to you, I’m a massive Rise Against fan. I first heard one of their songs on the soundtrack to Tony Hawk’s Underground, one of the greatest videogame soundtracks of all time. I was instantly hooked. The track was “Like The Angel” and I have brought every album since and seen them twice. They seem to have their melodic punk formula nailed down to the ground. Pacing riffs punctuated by marching drum beats all capped off by rousing choruses, yelling inspirational lyrics, angry yet optimistic, from the top of Tim McIlrath’s lungs. I wasn’t surprised to find an Irish surname on the lead writers wikipage. They remind me, in spirit if not so much in style, of the Dropkick Murphys. They combine the sweet melody and artistic soul with the defiance and anger of a nation with a history oppression.
Having said that though this is the 6th album in which they’ve done this. And if you are a band who are all about the impact you make with you’re listeners, if you carry on so rigidly with the same hooks, arrangements and sounds, then by round six, no matter how good the end result is, that impact is now going to have diminishing returns each time.
I enjoyed this album, I wanted to sing along to every chorus and nod my head to every tune, but make no mistake, you could put this CD into the last albums case and nobody will have noticed. In fact the only thing to notice it is that they seem to be relying on their B-Material. All of the best ideas have clearly been used up on the last couple of albums, in tracks such as “Kotov Syndrome”, “Prayer For The Refugee” and “Ready to Fall”.
Having said that though this album isn’t without it’s highlights. “Architects” calls out all the former idols who were symbols for rebellion, non conformism and subversion; who now seem content with being reality TV stars, selling butter or promoting insurance for which they couldn’t even qualify, as well as making a damming statement about the apathy of the current generation. “Make It Stop (Septembers Children)” sees the band doing what it does best, declaring war in a song with as much hope in it as tragedy, with a rebellious spirit that will overcome a terrible set of circumstances. This time the target is the persecution of gay teens by conservative America, going so far as to make a list of those who have taken their own lives because of bullying and the demonstration of homosexuality.
But like I’ve said, this album doesn’t really ever reach the heights of “Appeal To Reason” and certainly never gets close to how good they were on “The Sufferer And The Witness”. It still provides great entertainment for the casual fan and will defiantly be on the regular rotation of the bands biggest followers, but for the band themselves, I can’t see many of the songs surviving the set list of the first tour. I’ll let you know in a year or two.