Album Review: Rise Against, “The Black Market”

Written by Molly Boekenheide

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After 15 long years together, one might think that it’s difficult to continue sounding fresh. Not so, for punkers Rise Against, however. They have rekindled their rebellion with a new album, The Black Market, and impress with a rejuvenated sound that brings an entirely new dimension to the modern-day hooligans, all while still staying true to their original angsty, rampageous sound.

The album demands attention from the start, kicking off with the rapacious “The Great Die-Off.” The tune perfectly summarizes all that Rise Against stands for: unyielding anarchy, unabated outspokenness, and overall badassery. Front man Tim McIlrath issues an official call to action with his signature snarl, “We want it all and we want it now, the tide is coming to drown you out…we make ourselves at home, while your body’s still warm…”

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“I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore” is a tragically relatable tune that speaks of fighting unwelcome thoughts while teetering on the edge of your breaking point. “I don’t wanna be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for, your paradise is something I’ve endured…See, I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door, but something has to die to be reborn…I don’t wanna be here anymore…” McIlrath cries with desperation. So much emotion in one track makes for a stand-out, no matter how anguished the lyrical content is.

“Tragedy + Time” is an ode to the days of a pop-punk past, filled with simple instrumentals that will take you back to your rebellious teenage years. Beware; you might find yourself dancing around your room, singing along (badly), “and the braaaaavest of faces are the oooooones where we fake it!…” You may even feel compelled to rip some serious air guitar…so consider drawing the shades before you do.

The album’s title track, “The Black Market,” continues the disquiet with a quirky mixture of speedy verses sprinkled with elements of thrash before breaking down into heavy, no-nonsense choruses. “The Eco-Terrorist In Me” is one of the most high-energy tracks on the LP, and asks the important questions: “When it all comes down, will you say you did everything you could? When it all comes down, can you say that you never gave up?” It’s not all seriousness, though, as Rise Against makes sure to inject a hearty dose of cheeky attitude, growling out, “I found love, I found life, as a thorn stuck in your side…”

“Sudden Life” displays some of the best lyrical content in the album, with Rise Against pondering a crossroad in their lives as they consider their mortality, “Flat line and a closing bell whisper a warm farewell, the flames are beckoning as we’re walking into the light…” “A Beautiful Indifference” addresses life and death, with McIlrath crying with resolute conviction, “I’m here to stay!”

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“Methadone” tells a heartbreaking tale of addiction while backed by unrelenting guitars: “Love like needle full of methadone, potent but not real, left you wanting more…lipstick track-marks bleeding wet, like Montague’s and Capulet’s…” “Zero Visibility” is another stand-out track which is also dark, with instrumentals that parallel those of Metallica or Black Sabbath, and a melody similar to Halestorm’s “Mz. Hyde.” It’s all topped off with Backtrack-meets-Rage Against the Machine vocals…it’s rad.

“Awake Too Long” is a song about relationships, and the feeling that you get when the initial infatuation fizzles out. McIlrath’s superb vocals are highlighted in between blaring riffs and unrelenting percussion as he wails, “I’ve been awake too long, wish there was something that could close my eyes to all that I see…awake too long, it would be easier to fall asleep…”

The surprisingly soft “People Live Here” follows, and sees Rise Against get political. Fading in with strumming acoustics as McIlrath laments about the unravelling of humanity, taunting, “my God is better than yours,” and “my gun is bigger than yours!” The lyrics are filled with an unmistakable, yet still poetic bitterness: “From the penthouse to the holy martyr, sea to shining sea…” The last verse is particularly haunting, echoing after civilizations have collided, “when we’re all just ghosts and the madness overtakes us, I will scream to the sky…hey, people live here…”

“The Black Market” wraps up with “Bridges,” embracing the tenacious, unapologetic sound that made them stars. The track screams of restlessness, with McIlrath howling, “In a world of uncertainty, the night sky told us to be patient…but when the ground started shaking, I wondered for how long?”

Simply put: refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to rock, Rise Against has risen again!

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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