We are currently living in one of the most exciting times to be involved in politics. Social media and the internet in general have made us all more socially aware of everything happening than we could have known almost 20 years ago. There is a lot going on right now that is angering large groups of people both left and right. Most people are just trying their best to be heard. In all that noise, there is one band trying to stand out above the rest. Rise Against are back with another album “Wolves,” and it is one politically charged record.
Hardcore punk outfit Rise Against can be traced back all the way to 1999 and are based out of Chicago. While the lineup of the band has shifted from time to time, their sound and stances have essentially stayed the same, in large part thanks to front man Tim McIlrath and most of his activism, which has always played a forefront of the band’s subject matter. From the debut album “The Unraveling” in 2001 to their seventh studio album “The Black Market” in 2014, the band has taken a stance on almost everything from politics, human rights, animal rights and anything in between. Rise Against have never struggled with getting their music on the charts, and that could be in large part thanks to their message and their sound. Now just three years after their last release they are back with their eighth studio album “Wolves.”
“Wolves” is a 11-track record that clocks in at around 40 minutes in length. From the start, you know exactly what you are getting into with this record. It is not trying to hide its politically charged message or anything. There is a unique charm to the more brash way it is put in your face. There are some subtle tone shifts that put this record on par with a lot of their older work than anything on “The Black Market.” Rise Against are just trying to deliver a message on being a decent human being, and “Wolves” certainly delivers that message.
Musically, fans will notice some more subtle guitar tone changes that are apparent. From the lead track “Wolves,” there is a rough edge to the sound that is established early on and is maintained throughout the entire record. That is something you want in a punk rock record for sure. Tracks like “Far From Perfect” and “Politics of Love” have catchy and memorable riffs and are as loud and in your face as you would expect from a Rise Against record. Overall, the record is layered well and is trying to be groundbreaking by any means in what it is doing. This is more the work of a band that found a sound that works for them and is running with it, at the same time trying to keep it fresh. There are no curveballs by any means and tracks like “House on Fire” and “Mourning In Amerika” show off what Rise Against do best as musicians.
Lyrically, there is a lot to say about this record. Nothing is as surface level as it appears to be. You can hear the frustration the band has with the current political climate, especially in tracks like “Bullshit.” Then you begin to listen to something like “The Violence” or “Parts Per Million” that beg you to reflect on your own choices in life. The whole record is meant for the listener to come away as a more self-reflective person. There is a lot to be learned from listening to “Wolves” from start to finish. That being said, this is not a record for everyone, and it is going to anger certain demographics. However, that is exactly what anything from Rise Against is designed to do. “Wolves” is a record that is meant to inform, educate and inspire people to go out and make a change for the better. While it does a certain political nature, it is hard not to admire its intentions.
Should you listen to it?: Absolutely!
“Wolves” came at a perfect time in America. With everything going on, it is hard not to recommend listening to something like this record. Rise Against have always done a great job at challenging beliefs and motivating the masses and certainly are not slowing down any time soon. What the band has created is not meant for everyone, that is fair, but fans or not of the band and their message it is well worth the listen at the very least.