Rise Against – ‘Wolves’

By Liam Knowles

It has been over 15 years since Rise Against released their debut full length ‘The Unravelling’ and since then they have been consistently present and undeniably influential, honing their distinctive brand of political punk rock. Their formula may be well worn – ‘Wolves’ isn’t exactly packed with surprises – but it is packed with solid songwriting, enormous hooks and an energy that bands half their age fail to replicate.

‘Wolves’ opens with Tim McGrath’s instantly recognisable vocal over filtered guitars before the track kicks in to that signature Rise Against sound: sharp and clear whilst maintaining a rawness that prevents the anthemic choruses and gang vocals from delving into cheese territory. It’s a fine line in heavy music to be accessible without becoming a pop act but Rise Against walk it consistently and ‘Wolves’ is no exception. Even a track like ‘Bullshit’, with a lyrical refrain that would sound puerile in some hands, sounds genuine and purposeful.

As usual the band’s left-wing, anti-government leanings are worn proudly. There are many digs at the current US administration, the least subtle of which is ‘How Many Walls’, criticising America’s apparent inability to learn from its mistakes and recognise the deceptions of those in power. Many people were crying out for great political and socially aware punk rock to appear in the wake of Trump’s election and with ‘Wolves’, Rise Against have answered those cries.

Realistically ‘Wolves’ isn’t going to win over anyone who wasn’t keen on Rise Against before, as their sound is very much established and they rarely stray from it (although the riff before the last chorus of ‘Miracle’ is sure to make a few people do the riff face). They are, however, extremely consistent in the quality of their work and after eight albums still feel incredibly relevant. This album will sit proudly amongst their existing back catalogue and the new songs will feel just as urgent live as the old. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they grace our shores with them.

LIAM KNOWLES

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