Endgame, from Rise Against ten years after their debut, reveals in its title perhaps more than the Chicago band meant to: it’s time to call it a day. If that is, indeed, the case, they should have closed up shop after their more impressive last album, Appeal to Reason. It would’ve been the difference between going out with a bang or a whimper.
In the midst of vocalist/guitarist Tim McIlrath’s rages against war and American arrogance — which, though still valid, have grown a bit tired over the course of so many albums — are a couple of bright spots. Album opener “Architects” showcases drummer Brandon Barnes’ underrated importance in the band’s overall sound and has a nice little melodic punk groove, but the backing vocal behind McIlrath’s chorus is enraging in its destruction of an otherwise decent song. The emo backing vocals jump up throughout the rest of the record, and I can’t give credit to any one instance when they improve a song’s quality. The same can be said about McIlrath’s throat scratching screamo moments, as in “Help Is on the Way.” A screamer since day one, certain early songs benefited from such aggro-angst, but, again, it’s just grown tired.
Another mistake in production was the inclusion of the random sound byte (from a film?) in the otherwise volatile and vibrant “Survivor Guilt.” This track and album closer “Endgame” are the only two songs on here that seem anywhere near the quality of the best from their past. “Endgame,” with its killer bass hook that leads into a quintessential Rise Against tune, could’ve been released as a single. It probably should have been because as a full length, this bad boy just doesn’t measure up.
Rise Against: www.riseagainst.com