As a shock to their fans; Rise Against went with a political angle for The Black Market. In 2011, opinion about the band’s direction was truly split down the middle. To some, Endgame offered a step up from 2008’s Appeal to Reason, an album largely viewed as too much of a bid to enter the commercial mainstream. For others, it was more of the same and a sign that perhaps the band were running out of ideas and just starting to complain.
Of course, they’re still complaining, but they’re doing it better. At this point, it’s more exhaustion with the state of the world rather than “we can make a difference!” (see: People Live Here; a true ballad for the “I give up, the world sucks and there’s very little I can do” mentality).
I Don’t Want to Be Here Anymore was tasked with whetting appetites and still stands out since the release. Establishing the album as an extended rant about how much the planet has gone wrong, lyrics like “I don’t think I can fight this anymore” suggested a loss of the will to battle on, building on the message scattered through other tracks.
Savior is currently resting as their most popular track, an honour which means it also gets to close their live shows, followed closely by Prayer of the Refugee– undoubtedly helped by its appearance on Guitar Hero 3. If anything is worthy as a contender for most famous, it will be Tragedy + Time, a master class in song writing. When there’s emotion in Tim McIlrath’s voice, you believe it’s real, not the product of studio magic. Almost with regret, he sings that “Despite the overwhelming odds tomorrow came”, the most notable line as it comes just as the music has slowed, drawing all attention in its direction. The fact that tomorrow never actually does arrive is easily overlooked.
Slowing down to shout one of the most thought our lyrics is common throughout the album but most apparent on closing track Bridges. “We were in love once/ Have you forgotten?” McIlrath cries, resonating with those disenchanted by Endgame. By this time, the political sucker punches have taken their toll. A new moral compass is quite the adjustment.
Their collective talents created an album that can be played on repeat without complaint. The Black Market came out in July but still sounds fresh. Obviously, a few months shouldn’t be long enough to make an album fade into insignificance but there’s no sense that irrelevance will strike it down any time soon. Protest easily washes over people, especially in music, the tune itself being easier to remember, but for as long as there are faults with the way the world works, they’ll be singing about it.