by: Sean Boy
Rise Against does just that -- rise against and above today's new wave of punk rock impersonators. So much punk recorded these days is a derivation twice or thrice removed. That's not to say Rise Against is all that original, but they've honed the formula surprisingly well. On their debut album, "The Unraveling", Rise Against blends hardcore and punk rock with a precision that's, dare I say, almost perfect. While the production quality doesn’t match the tight songwriting, what really stands out and sets this album apart is vocalist Tim Mcilrath. He cuts between singing and wailing with the greatest of ease and his vocals have the certain je ne sais quoi that the musicianship lacks. Bassist Joe Principe and guitarist Dan Wleklinski were members of melodic hardcore stalwarts 88 Fingers Louie, and the sounds they create are powerful and engaging, but the addition of Mcilrath really takes this project to the next level.
In a perfect world, track 11, "Everchanging" would grace the commercial airwaves in heavy rotation. With a feel-good, sing-along chorus it's got all the makings of a hit single. Plus it exemplifies how Mcilrath's voice transitions from smooth to gritty almost instantaneously. Other standout tracks are "Six Ways 'Til Sunday" a song that points out the narrow-mindedness of many inside the punk and hardcore scenes, "The Art of Losing" a more typical hardcore track, and then "Reception Fades" with its hardcore verses up against more punk-pop choruses. No filler tracks here.
Not since Dag Nasty's "Can I Say" has a hardcore band pushed the genre in a direction that has a real possiblity of attracting throngs of new fans. Hopefully with constant touring and strong word of mouth, Rise Against can break outside the shrinking confines of the hardcore scene. Watch for Rise Against in the LA and OC areas at the end of August.