Though Rise Against are a band that need little introduction, they are a band that divide opinion. Having emerged from Chicago’s hardcore scene before releasing two albums through Fat Wreck Chords, it took little time for the four-piece’s idiosyncratic brand of politically charged punk to garner major label attention, pissing off punks in the process.
While the band’s politics remained (and continue to remain) as steadfast as ever, this move to a major saw a significant shift in the band’s sound, moving away from the hardcore influence of earlier cuts in favour of something softer, sleeker and altogether more accessible. This ready-for-radio aesthetic has served Rise Against well now for almost 20 years, but never has it felt as realised as it does on 'Nowhere Generation', the band’s ninth record.
Wasting no time in establishing said aesthetic, ‘The Numbers’ opens the album in true Rise Against fashion. Weighty riffs and thunderous percussion are of course present in droves, while the track’s anthemic chorus is rousing call-to-arms that’s impossible to ignore.
Elsewhere, the eponymous lead single ‘Nowhere Generation’ is softer though no less anthemic. An obvious choice as far as singles go, it follows a similar vein to earlier offerings like ‘Swing Life Away’ or ‘Audience Of One’, and in doing so will likely earn the ire of grizzled hardcore fans who have little more to do than bitch online about how a band has changed.
And Rise Against have changed, or rather they’ve evolved. But that doesn’t mean to say they’ve lost any of the piss and vinegar that flowed through their earlier records, if anything on Nowhere Generation it’s been distilled down to its essence, rearing its head on tracks such as ‘Sooner Or Later’ or ‘Rules Of Play’, something which allows the record to feel not so much diverse, but considered, freeing up space so the band can spread their song wings, at least a little.
Though 'Nowhere Generation' isn’t breaking boundaries, it doesn’t need to. Rise Against have carved out a niche that works for them, and if it aint broke, why fix it?
Words: Dave Beech
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