Rise Against, ‘Wolves’ – Album Review
Over the past decade, Rise Against have become one of the top tier bands in rock. Their last three studio albums have landed in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200 album chart and have done well in numerous corners of the world. Their latest effort Wolves should continue their successful run.
The album opens with the title track, a solid representation of their style that blends silky smooth melodies with harder-edged and aggressive moments. “House on Fire” ups the ante with an instantly memorable chorus that seems destined to be a hit single. Speaking of singles, the album's first one is “The Violence,” an urgent call to “fight the current, pull the ripcord, get away!”
With how catchy Rise Against's songs are, it can be easy to forget how politically charged their lyrics can be. Frontman Tim McIlrath says, “I want to create dangerous spaces where misogyny can’t exist, where xenophobia can’t exist. I want to create spaces where those sentiments don’t have any air, and they suffocate: where those ideas die. Wolves isn’t about creating a safe space, it’s about creating a space that’s dangerous for injustice.”
“Welcome to the Breakdown” moves easily between uptempo hardcore punk style verses and smooth, midtempo choruses, while “Bulls—t” incorporates brief moments of reggae with straightforward arena rock.
McIlrath brings a varied approach to the vocals. He can croon smoothly on tracks like “Politics of Love,” and is able to transition seamlessly between screaming and singing on “Far From Perfect.”
The concise 40 minute album is filled with strong songs throughout. The second half of the disc has plenty of potential hits including the closing track “Miracle” and the rocking “Mourning in Amerika.”
After working with producers Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore on five of their last six albums (2004's Siren Song of the Counter Culture was produced by Garth Richardson), Rise Against decided to go with Nick Raskulinecz this time around. The Nashville-based producer has worked with some big names such as Stone Sour, Deftones, Mastodon and Korn.
It was a fruitful collaboration. The band maintains their core sound without being stagnant and incorporate ample diversity. Raskulinecz gives them plenty of punch and clarity without making things too slick. Wolves is an appealing combination of catchy songs and thoughtful, passionate lyrics.