Re-Education (Through Labor) - Rise Against
Rise Against grew up on a steady diet of Black Flag, Descendents, and Minor Threat, but with 2004's "Swing Life Away," the Chicago band demonstrated that by translating such influences to acoustic guitar, it could find a surprisingly warm reception at mainstream radio. Two years later, The Sufferer & The Witness proved the band could sustain mass appeal not just through ballads, but through a string of faster, more politically charged singles that flirted with modern rock without forsaking the band's hardcore roots. On Appeal To Reason, however, that flirtation gives way to full-on romance: After a charging opener, "Collapse (Post-Amerika)," that finds vocalist Tim McIlrath belting out America-as-Rome metaphors in especially galvanizing form, Rise Against downshifts into a series of mid-paced tunes (including another acoustic ballad, "Hero Of War") that use melodic-hardcore traditions primarily as exclamation points. Longtime fans need not worry: Uptempo anthems like "Savior," "Kotov Syndrome," and "Entertainment" should satisfy anyone still uneasy about Rise Against's radio aspirations. And for the wider world that may have trouble swallowing a song accusing the Bush administration of fascism (first single "Re-Education (Through Labor)"), some wah-wah pedals, a big chorus, and a bit of post-grunge sheen provide the necessary spoonful of sugar.