It’s a tale as old as time; the rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the world gets that little bit darker. Every Rise Against album since their inception has felt timely, addressing these issues head on and raging against an abusive system designed to disenfranchise those least fortunate, from Appeal To Reason’s ‘Re-Education Through Labor’ to ‘Prayer of the Refugee’ from 2006’s The Sufferer And The Witness. Come 2021 and it seems their message has only grown more urgent and more relevant; it seems fitting in these dark times, then, that they continue to release their politically-charged brand of punk with their ninth album, Nowhere Generation.
Opener ‘The Numbers’ samples a Russian translation of L’Internationale, a song that’s been an anthem of working people since the nineteenth century - while to some bands this might seem contrived, with Rise Against you know it’s sincere, that they believe every word. From there it’s into a quietly strummed guitar - but it soon batters down the door with a mid-paced, anthemic guitar melody and a stadium-sized chorus.
‘Sudden Urge’ is a furious indictment, a call to rise up and tear down the old system, while ‘Nowhere Generation’ addresses the alienation of younger generations’ and the economic and political deck being stacked against them. Both are blazing, full-throttle punk anthems that feature pounding drum work, vitriolic lyrics and guitar work that lends an epic scope without sacrificing intensity.
On the opposite side is ‘Forfeit’, an acoustic ballad that, while not as energetic or furious, is no less intense and has echoes of Appeal To Reason’s ‘Savior’. Vocalist Tim McIlrath’s voice is cracked with emotion as he declares “I won’t give up on you” and the accompanying strings and drumming are understated, serving to enhance the gut wrenching emotion on display. It’s a bold choice for the midpoint, one that runs the risk of robbing the album of its momentum. It doesn’t do that, thankfully, and followup ‘Monarch’ is all fire and brimstone, spinning the tale of rising up against your tormentor, realising your inner strength and refusing to take any more abuse.
While the formula followed on Nowhere Generation won’t be of any surprise to fans, that’s no bad thing; this is a sound Rise Against have been honing since day one and it’s become their trademark. Melodic guitar work, a driving rhythm section, gigantic choruses and incisive lyrics that issue a righteous call to arms to rise up and create a better world for us all, not just the 1%. With each successive Rise Against album you can be sure of a certain level of quality and Nowhere Generation absolutely does not disappoint.
The current state of the world, both in the pandemic and in the ceaseless march of capitalism to profit as much as possible without care for those that toil under its boot, has clearly incensed them. It’s fuelled them to craft an incendiary call to take back the power from faceless corporations and corrupt governments and to create a better world for us all and Nowhere Generation stands as another dependably strong entry into their already excellent catalogue.
Nowhere Generation is out Friday 4th June on Loma Vista Recordings