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Rise Against - Nowhere Generation (Album Review)

Thursday, 10 June 2021 Written by Emma Wilkes

Photo: Wyatt Troll

To say anything vaguely ‘woke’ is to be questioned and accused of virtue signalling and clout-chasing by the online hordes of the right, with messages sometimes heard but rarely listened to. But to make such accusations against Rise Against at this stage of their career, and after hearing their latest output, ‘Nowhere Generation’, would be particularly foolish.

On their ninth outing the veteran punks have big business and critics of younger generations in their crosshairs, while they continue to write nuanced and eloquent protest music in a way few other bands can match. 

Frontman Tim McIlrath does not position himself as the leader of a revolution: he is an observer, one person in a crowd of millions who has heard the cries for change and echoes them. “I have seen what you call progress/Every warning sign ignored,” he sings on Broken Dreams Inc.

Throughout, he proves that protest comes in subtle shades and not block colours—he dissects issues rather than tearing them to pieces.

While the sweeping, grandiose opener The Numbers offers a rallying cry, the title track exemplifies beautifully the layers of nuance the Chicagoans are capable of working into their music. A hook such as “We are the nowhere generation/We are the kids that no-one wants,” could be turned into an angry putdown in different hands, but McIlrath transforms it into something as sobering as it is unifying. 

Rise Against’s template is still largely made up of sturdy, punk-tinged alt-rock—it’s not the most innovative, but that was never what they came to do. They shine brightest when they create genuine moments that feel as defiant and powerful as the lyrics, such as the rhythm section’s determined thrum throughout Sudden Urge and the soaring riffs that take Talking To Ourselves and Broken Dreams Inc. to beautiful, anthemic places. 

But while the first five tracks come across as the opening half of a five star record, later cuts such as Monarch and Sounds Like lack staying power. Zooming out, though, this is a small complaint on an album packed with genuine passion. McIlrath is a man that you want to speak up for you, and for the millennials and Gen Zs listening, it will be refreshing to have someone like him in their corner. 

Rise Against Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Mon November 15 2021 - LEEDS Key Club
Tue November 16 2021 - BRIGHTON Chalk
Wed November 17 2021 - LONDON Pryzm

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