Hey everyone. It’s been a while since my last column. A little more than a month actually, which is unusual. I kind of hit a brick wall on what to write about, and just had a complete case of writers block. That and I’ve been kind of busy. I went to Ozzfest, I turned 25, and I took my family to the zoo. That’s kind of become “our thing” to do in the summer, because my daughter has always loved the animals. We had a great time. Ozzfest went really well, aside from the rain in the evening. While the main stage was certainly lacking this year, the second stage was the best in Ozzfest history in my opinion. Throwdown, Every Time I Die, Unearth, God Forbid, Bleeding Through, and Hatebreed all delivered explosive sets. Even Slipknot, who I’m not usually crazy about, was great on stage. With the exception of a few songs I don’t care for much of their music, but their live show is excellent and full of energy. The main stage was pretty weak though. I didn’t watch Black Label Society, I slept through Super Joint Ritual, and I got up and walked around when Dimmu Borgir came on. I’ve never been a Slayer fan, so I didn’t watch them either though I could hear their entire show. They sounded really good. We sat through Judas Priest because the skies opened up and decided to drop a rain storm in our laps. Luckily we had pavilion seats. Judas Priest put on a decent live show, I just don’t like their music. Black Sabbath was amazing though. This years Ozzfest definitely overshadowed last years by the second stage acts alone. But anyway, enough about that, back to my case of writers block. I purchased an album the other day that finally inspired me to write something. Here it is, enjoy.
Rise Against Siren Song Of The Counter Culture
2004 Geffen Records
Chicago’s Rise Against return to us in the form of their major label debut, Siren Song Of The Counter Culture. The band underwent two significant changes since their last album, 2003’s Fat Wreck Chords release Revolutions Per Minute. They enlisted a new guitarist as well as jumped from inde label, Fat Wreck, over to major label, Geffen Records. For a punk band like Rise Against, normally the major label jump would be career suicide. In this case, they haven’t lost an ounce of their integrity and still manage to deliver the goods like they always have. Of course, true Rise Against fans knew they wouldn’t let us down.
The album starts out on a high note with the politically motivated track (as many on the album are), State of the Union. This is a very angry track, and has quickly become one of my favorites on the album. Going off of the title, it’s obvious that this song is a commentary on the current condition of our country, but the lyrics really say it all. If we’re the flagship of peace and prosperity, we’re taking on water and about to fucking sink. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Along with their politically motivated tracks, the band drop a couple unusual tracks on the album and take the listener by surprise. The first is Blood To Bleed, which is a tale of a failed relationship. Though it’s an odd track to hear from Rise Against, it’s still a great song and the lyrics are so emotional you’d swear they stole them from Chris Caraba. The other track is an acoustic track titled Swing Life Away, which was first featured on the Punk Goes Acoustic compilation. When I first heard this track on that compilation, I didn’t care for it. Not that it was a bad song, but it was too different from their previous material I was used to. However, after giving it a second chance, I really enjoy the track and think it compliments the album nicely. Tim really has a good singing voice which isn’t always given the chance to shine in most of their tracks, so it’s nice to hear it once in a while.
This album features everything a fan could ask for in a Rise Against album; powerful, thought-provoking lyrics mixed with melodic, hardcore punk rock. There is no filler on this album, and that’s how music should be. Fuck one good song on an album. Fuck albums driven by the success of a single which gets tons of airplay on the radio and MTV, only to have ten or eleven other songs that are complete shit. The shit is getting tiring and it’s bands like Rise Against who are going to come along and change that. We need more bands like these guys with major label backing so that they can get their music and their message out there. Think about that next time you cry “sellout” when an underground band goes major. My conclusion on this album, buy it. You won’t be sorry. Pick up Revolutions Per Minute and The Unraveling too.
Recommended tracks: State of the Union, Anywhere But Here, Tip the Scales
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m out.