ALBUM REVIEW: Rise Against – ‘Nowhere Generation’

Words by Natalie Blacklock

If there was ever a perfect time for a new record from Chicago’s outspoken, socially-conscious, punk rockers Rise Against, it is definitely right now. Under the expert tutelage of Jason Livermore, Andrew Berlin, Chris Beeble and long-time producer and engineer Bill Stevenson (Black Flag, The Descendents), the band’s latest effort, ‘Nowhere Generation’, is blazing and aggressive, fusing old-school punk attitude with post-hardcore fury; shining an enormous spotlight on the social and economic deck that has been unfairly stacked against younger generation’s pursuit of ‘The American Dream’… or in our case ‘The Great Australian Dream’.

Rise Against are:
Tim McIlrath (Vocals & Rhythm Guitar)
Zach Blair (Lead Guitar)
Joe Principe (Bass)
Brandon Barnes (Drums)

1. The Numbers
2. Sudden Urge
3. Nowhere Generation
4. Talking To Ourselves
5. Broken Dreams, Inc.
6. Forfeit
7. Monarch
8. Sounds Like
9. Sooner Or Later
10. Middle Of A Dream
11. Rules Of Play

Opening track The Numbers is a stand out from the album. The track samples the Russian translated, French anthem, L’Internationale, which has been a song for working class since the late 19th Century. The accompanying video clip propels the spirit of the song’s roots through a powerful collaboration with Indecline – the American Activist Collective comprised of graffiti writers, filmmakers, photographers, full-time rebels and activists. 

Second track, Sudden Urge is catchy and intense, hooking the listener in right from the opening instrumentation as Brandon Barnes’ drumrolls penetrate every fibre. McIlrath’s lyrics stand strong here too as the chorus unleashes “… and feel the sudden urge to watch this whole town burn”, perhaps hopeful that something more beautiful can be built if things just started over again. The album’s title track, Nowhere Generation is unapologetically ‘classic’ Rise Against. Opening with powerfully edgy lyrics from frontman Tim McIlrath, the raw and gritty vocals resonate strongly as the hard-hitting guitars bring it all together – catchy and mesmerising; exactly like a great Rise Against track should be.

Following on, the band’s latest single, Talking To Ourselves, conveys a sense of urgency through its surprisingly pop candour. It’s an impressive track and really sums up the band perfectly and speaking to who Rise Against are as musicians – just four guys writing songs, wanting to be heard and wondering if anyone is actually listening.

Next up is Broken Dreams, Inc., which was released as part of the DC Comics Dark Nights Death Metal Soundtrack in September last year. Largely inspired by the trials and tribulations everyday people endure to be deemed “successful” in the eyes of their peers, the message of track is driven by its’ outstanding accompanying animated / motion comic video, drawn by DC Comics artist Greg Capullo.

The midsection of ‘Nowhere Generation’ provides a welcome change of pace and Forfeit definitely delivers. Reminiscent of old-school fan favourite Swing Life Away from the band’s 2004 album ‘Siren Song of the Counter Culture’, the song is by no stretch a ‘political’ track, but rather it is a beautiful, emotive moment at and McIlrath combining his crooning vocals and acoustic guitar is certainly a moment to relish – as will be its performance in open-air amphitheatre, with a sea of flickering lighters when full time touring can resume. Monarch gets right back into the hard-hitting style of ‘Nowhere Generation’ and speaks of breaking out and breaking free from being held down for too damn long – “no longer am I prisoner to your empty fucking words”. The track is almost anthemic and certainly cathartic in nature and is very much an anthem of liberation. Frontman McIlrath’s vocals combined a solid effort on the bass from Joe Principe on Sounds Like. It is the height of exasperation in the form of a song, echoing the expression of “what are we doing? How are we back here again?” Speaking of empty words and inaction, the track acts as an interesting (cc: concerning) commentary of the world we live in. The next song, Sooner Or Later, offers a pulsing sense of impending doom. The track stands as a reminder that things need to be dealt with, using some kind of urgency – “sooner or later comes a time when we will reap what we have sown”. Undoubtedly, the riff-laden bridge is the most ‘hardcore’ moment on the record, as McIlrath unleashes a lingering, howling scream. Middle Of A Dream is the second last song on ‘Nowhere Generation’ and it’s a certified banger. The instrumental sections juxtaposed with McIlrath’s soaring vocal lines standing alongside the Zach Blair’s guitars reverberates across the song – this is certainly a track that needs to be seen in a live setting. The album’s closer, Rules Of Play, speaks of finding that person where you can say “ah, you get it.” It’s a feeling that can be applied to a plethora of situation – finding your people at work, finding that fellow music lover at a show or finding your significant other – “I can see in your eyes that you and I are kind of the same.” The track is a fitting conclusion to a nuanced and perceptive examination of the plight of younger generations, who’ve never really known prosperity, success and freedom in quite the way older generations have.

For Rise Against, a band that has been on the forefront of mainstream punk-rock since 2004, ‘Nowhere Generation’ showcases a different approach to their art. Undoubtedly, it’s a record that finds the band at their best: angry, loud and with a heart-on-the-sleeve message sitting front and centre, offering up one of the more socially relevant records of 2021. People want honesty and that music can be a catalyst for change, so instead of taking on the low-hanging fruit that is one specific person in power, Rise Against have elected to challenge the whole damn system front-on and its damn powerful stuff.

Rise Against‘s 9th studio album ‘Nowhere Generation’ is out TOMORROW – Friday June 4th
via Loma Vista Recordings. Pick yourself up a copy HERE.

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With thanks to Dallas Does PR

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