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Rise Against: Endgame

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Rise Against takes itself so seriously, there isn’t always room for anyone else to. But the melodic hardcore band’s platinum-selling breakthrough, 2008’s Appeal To Reason, cemented Tim McIlrath’s role as one of the most radical voices in mainstream music today—not to mention one of its most aggressive songwriters. So where does that leave Rise Against’s sixth album, Endgame? On pretty solid ground, actually. As concussively leftist as ever, McIlrath loads the new disc with lung-scorching screeds against economic injustice (“Disparity By Design”), civic apathy (“Architects”), and the pitfalls of partisanship (“A Gentlemen’s Coup”). His occasional dips into the poetic and personal—“I have my mother’s dreams / I have my father’s eyes,” he sings on “Help Is On The Way”—help humanize the melodrama, although the kids’ choir on “Make It Stop (September’s Children)” sends the song flying into a tear-filled well of self-parody. Musically, McIlrath and crew remain at the top of their game; Bad Religion-esque harmonies lend gravity to standard-issue, skillfully assembled punk riffs, most of which manage to feel wretchedly bleak and pyrrhic. Asking Rise Against to lighten up is, of course, futile at this point. Then again, considering its success, the band is no longer preaching exclusively to the converted—and with that in mind, Endgame’s outspokenness and passion sound downright vital.