The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

53° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Rise Against

    Rise Against is not necessarily a new act; they’ve been on the music scene for the past couple years making hits and continually expanding their fan base. However, they haven’t hit it huge quite yet and remain relatively unknown by many people.

    They are a mix of punk, rock and metal hailing from Chicago, Illinois, and have produced a number of quality albums since forming in 1999. Two of the current members were originally part of a group called 88 Fingers Louie that split up and went their separate ways before the band could make any kind of name for itself. The new group, first called Transistor Revolt, went through some line up changes before eventually ended up with today’s ensemble of Brandon Barnes, Tim McIlrath, Joe Principe, and Chris Chasse. Chris Chasse is the lead guitar, accompanied by the power vocals of Tim McIlrath.

    Supported by these two is the bass and drums, played by Brandon Barnes and Joe Principe, respectively. In any case, their story is not so much of how the group together, but more about the great music they’ve made since. I first heard them at Warped Tour in the summer of 2004, when the show was headlined by other more famous groups like New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and Coheed & Cambria. However, these ‘prime-time’ acts paled in comparison to the show Rise Against put on. They owned that show, and every fan that saw them got their moneys worth. Rise Against was also much more accessible, as any fans that wanted could come meet them after their show and get some free music. I took advantage, and picked up their new single, ‘Give it All,’ which would later become a minor hit on the Billboard charts. They were some pretty cool guys as well.

    This song was a part of their debut album titled Siren Song of the Counter Culture, was described in an article in Rolling Stone as ‘full of complex, supercharged punk songs spiked with crackling hooks and urgent choruses.’ If it was hard to tell, this is a way of saying their album rocked, and I couldn’t agree more.

    Their most recent album, The Sufferer and the Witness, ‘beefs up the Chicago quartet’s ass-kicking thwack,’ as Rolling Stone continues, ‘with even more shout-along moments and topsy-turvy action, it’s rousing, tightly wound and could be the album of the summer for anybody who needs a good yowl in their lives.’ Case and point: Rise Against is cathartic and fast paced, and this unique and attractive quality is also the reason they are likely to never going main stream. So be it; for those fans who can appreciate their ruckus, here are a couple songs to check out.

    ‘Swing Life Away,’ is probably their most famous song, hitting #12 on the Billboard 100 charts in the US a few years back. It’s an acoustic ballad that is a direct contrast to their usual rowdy, in-your-face style. My guess is what made it so popular was likely the chance it gave the lead singer, Tim McIlrath, to shine. His voice takes over the song and soothes you, as you want to sit back and simply enjoy the moment.

    If only the rest of their music was so relaxing. ‘Give it All,’ as mentioned before, was the first single from their debut album. This song is the kind of heavy scream out loud music that really ‘gives it all.’ As the song goes ‘Rock bottoms where we live/ and still we dig these trenches/to bury ourselves in them, backs breaking under tension/For far too long these voices, muffled by distances/it’s time to come to our senses.’ It reminds you of Rage Against the Machine and other bands that want you to fight the system and start your own revolution. Bands with this kind of tenacity and wit don’t come around everyday, and to find another group with these qualities is music to my ears.

    A song with this kind of intention is ‘Ready to Fall;’ not necessarily because of its lyrics but its video. The music video is a montage of scenes showing out earth falling apart- video of nuclear reactors, slaughter houses, beached whales- which all amount to the songs final verse ‘Every action has a reaction. We only have one planet.’ Their message is clear and meaningful, and certainly not corny; they’re telling us that we will pay for the damage we’ve done the planet if we don’t do anything now to stop it. We need to fight against our wasteful and destructive habits of our society, right here, right now.

    ‘Prayer of the Refugee,’ is not unlike ‘Ready to Fall,’ in its shocking images and stand up and fight attitude, as the video is a blatant smack in the face of our developed society. The video parallels things like a pair of sneakers in a department store and the young boy sewing them in some developing country, set to lyrics like ‘But we’ve been sweating while you slept so calm/In the safety of your home./We’ve been pulling out the nails that hold up/Everything you’ve known.’ Its music that gets the message they want to the listener and inspires you to want to make a change. The video, like the lyrics in both of these songs, are eye opening ballads that want us to change now, or have to face the consequences of decision to keep ignoring the problems our world faces.

    Rise Against is a multi-layered very talented group with a message that sets them apart from mainstream music. Their presence in today’s rock and punk scene is one that will hopefully be around for a very long time, and continue making the kind of music we all should learn to open our ears and minds to.

    Leave a Comment
    Donate to The Statesman

    Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The Statesman

    Comments (0)

    All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *