When you think of modern punk rock, one name immediately springs to mind. That band is Rise Against. With a career that spans fifteen years, Rise Against has cemented themselves in punk rock culture and become the staple band of any young and relatively pissed off teenage who doesn’t quite fit in with the more “mainstream” crowd. I know that my love for Rise Against blossomed when I was fourteen and incredibly angry at the world around me.
Through their fifteen years together, their sound has continued to change and morph with each record. They have shifted from the loud aggressive hardcore punk sound of The Unravelling and Revolutions Per a Minute during their independent years to the still edgy yet more melodic sound of Siren Song of the Counter Culture and The Sufferer and the Witness. The past three records, the band has settled on a formula that seems to work well for them: that formula being producing music that is a lot more melodic and involves Tim McIlarath shouting a lot less than he used to. Critics and fans alike have criticised this sound and have dismissed the band as being boring and complacent. It is the idea that the band has chosen to become stagnant and unwilling to change.
I challenge this criticism though – possibly based on the fact that I am an enormous fan of the band and am still holding onto the memory of meeting the band when they toured South Africa. If you listen to The Black Market, you can hear elements of all the previous records within the album. The melodic quality of McIlrath’s vocals from Appeal to Reason and Endgame are incredibly clear on the album. The guitar work from The Sufferer and the Witness takes a moment of resurrection is several of the songs while having elements of Endgame thrown into it as well. The rapid strumming of Siren Song of The Counter Culture can be heard on “The Great Die Off” while the guitar work off “Prayers of the Refugee” creeps its way into “Away Too Long.” These are just two examples of Rise Against’s previous work coming together on The Black Market.
The winning element of The Black Market, as with any Rise Against album, is the lyrics. There is no denying the lyrical prowess of the band, nor denying that they have truly stuck to the roots of punk rock. They constantly deliver songs that have the intent of challenging all the fundamental principles of society. They deal with America’s obsession with war, or actually any warmonger’s obsession with war, in “The Great Die Of.” It is a particularly striking song about the current situation in the Middle-East. “I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore” deals with McIlrath’s disgust with the world and society in general. “The Black Market” provokes thought about what goes on in the black market. I can ramble on and on about the lyrical themes contained within in this album – but I am nearing my world limit. The point is that once again Rise Against delivers lyrics that are, in my opinion, tattoo-worthy.
If you’re the type of person that skips through reviews to see how the author summarises the album then let me summarise the type of album that The Black Market is. The Black Market is angry, though-provoking punk rock that is desperately required during a time when people speak too much, think too little and do whatever they please. It isn’t a game-changer. It isn’t something new. It is honest and down-right beautiful music and that is all you could ask for from an album. If you have to be forced to listen to one album for the rest of your life then pick The Black Market.
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