Review || Rise Against - "Nowhere Generation"

Rise Against will be releasing their 9th studio album titled ‘Nowhere Generation’ due out June 4th on Loma Vista Recordings / Spinefarm Records. 

The last RA record I reviewed was 2014’s ‘The Black Market’; I made it seem like a fictional fan letter addressed to the band personally, as cause for alarm towards a group I used to be in love with and that had started a long path of making mediocre records by standards they themselves had set. For a punk rock record in 2014 ‘The Black Market’ was a good enough record, but for a Rise Against record it was borderline uninteresting and that’s a problem for a punk rock band who shred underground 100/cap stages in Chicago in 1999 and went on to headline stadium tours a mere ten years later. Since then, RA released another “good enough” record with 2017’s ‘Wolves’ which was a semi-final turning point for me because I basically lost complete interest from then on. Looking back, that was more of an expected move from me, since I was already heading in a more pop/emo punk direction anyway; I almost want to say that ‘Wolves’ is a pretty good record listening to it now, but that’s just my ignorant little self, falling into the trap I just set. Again, by Rise Against standards of making record-of-the-year and top-ten of all-time records for 7-10 years in a row, these “newer” records of the past decade are just not up to par. 

Fast forward to 2020 and I randomly fall onto a new unreleased RA called ‘Broken Dreams Inc.’, which is part of the soundtrack for some video game. From the opening of the song, I can immediately tell it’s going to be amazing in full swing and what impresses me the most is that it reminds me of so many elements of RA’s past song-writing. The music is aggressive AND catchy, there are finally some extra-ordinary basslines, Tim’s vocal line is simple but flows perfectly, THIS is a song that fits into a record like 2006’s ‘Sufferer and the Witness’, one of the best punk rock records of the last twenty years. So, naturally, I’m livid with expectations of an amazing new record in the veins of the glorious past, right? Well, not exactly. 

Enter ‘Nowhere Generation’, an eleven song - roughly 40/minute collection of new music by Rise Against, record number nine and on label number three, as the band surprisingly switches from a major label to a fresh endeavour titled Loma Vista Recordings and even on a different label for Europe exclusively with Spinefarm Records. In some ways I continued to be pleasantly surprised with ‘Nowhere Generation’, in others I wasn’t. The record is not as rock or even pop rock oriented as some of the previous LP’s of the band and definitely showcases a heavier/faster vibe with songs like "The Numbers", "Sudden Urge", "Broken Dreams Inc.", "Monarch", "Sounds Like" and "Rules of Play". Then there are the more mid-tempo melodic punk rock songs like the title track, "Talking to Ourselves" and "Sooner or Later" for which RA have become wildly popular and the rest is somewhere in-between; of course there’s another acoustic track (Forfeit) in the mix! 

Let’s be blunt; "Monarch" and "Broken Dreams Inc." are incredible, making me think I was listening to outtakes from "Revolutions Per Minute"; the band gets bonus points just for putting up those songs and if the record had a few more songs in that framework of a feeling it would have been borderline amazing. "The Numbers", "Talking to Ourselves" and "Nowhere Generation" are great and I actually liked the acoustic track. The rest is mostly just ok. The production for the record again - of course - is handled by the folks at the Blasting Room and the slight niches here and there point to a generally more aggressive approach than recent releases and I mostly felt that underlying slightly “crustier” touch with Tim Macllrath’s vocals, which gives the record a fresh yet “old school” presence and after so many years, that’s a good vantage point for more music to come. 

If ‘The Sufferer and the Witness’ is a masterful 10/10, ‘Siren Song of the Counter Culture’ a 9.5/10 and ‘Revolutions per Minute a 9/10, then in my book ‘Nowhere Generation does rank lower but still solidly at exactly 7.7/10.     

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