The Chicago punk rockers drop their long-awaited album ‘Nowhere Generation’ today – but is it any good?
Rise Against has gained fans and peers’ respect as one of the most influential punk bands in the world today. Nowhere Generation joins the band’s long list of politically and socially charged albums, delving deep into the shadow side of the world we live in.
The songs cover topics from the climate crisis, the growing gap in economic disparity to the plight of younger generations. As the album’s title suggests, today’s ‘nowhere generation’ is facing a very different set of challenges than other generations have, notably; finding their place in an incredibly fast-evolving world, concern for the planet, the pressure they face trying to keep up in a social media drenched society and their confusion over other generations outdated perspectives.
Nowhere Generation, calls out a world in social decline pointing the finger of blame at older generations that seemingly turn a blind eye to the disastrous results of past inaction. The album pleads for empathy, acknowledgement and change. It offers hope and empowerment. This is the quintessential punk album.
It’s impossible, to sum up an album of such depth in only a few words, so here’s an in-depth track-by-track review of the Rise Againt’s latest and possibly one of their best album to date—an album where the desire to hit repeat is almost too strong to resist.
With the first playthrough, and right from the very first song, the excitement and familiarity fans will revel in, hits you right between the eyes with that Rise Against signature sound flowing throughout the entire album. The second time you hit play, the lyrics rise up through the music. These are their messages to make the world sit up, look and listen.
Their ninth studio album opens with their third single release, The Numbers. You will revel in that familiar Rise against ferocity. The Numbers encourages the masses to rise up against an age of indifference.
The track is a classic punk rock anthem, reminding people that they have the power to change the world. With enough voices, those in charge must listen. Frontman Tim McIlraths’ vocals are at their commanding best – “And they have the power, But we have the numbers now.” Lyrically the most vital message rings out with the words, “What we continue to be is what we allow.” It’s a call to stand up and be counted and it’s a reminder that we, the people, are the ones who wield power.
Sudden Urge is a big, anthemic track, with the musical ebb and flow that balances out so well in their songs. Brandon Barnes thrashes the drums like his life depends on it. Lyrically the track pulls no punches, questioning whether the many of the global and political systems the world has in place can be fixed or if the whole thing needs to be ‘burnt to the ground’ to start again.
Nowhere Generation’s title track is McIlrath’s cry for compassion and understanding on behalf of the soon-to-be caretakers of this planet -a generation of people who are growing up in a world where the odds are stacked against them.
There’s the acknowledgement that our younger generations struggles hold more depth and anxiety than any before. Tim’s vocals pierce your psyche in a plea to stop and listen to them. The song talks to our Gen Y and Z, but the words also acknowledge that this goes deeper, with Gen X and beyond struggling to find their way in the new world we have created.
Talking To Ourselves
This theme flows into the latest single, Talking To Ourselves. There is no respite in music or meaning. “I never wanted to disturb the peace, but it feels no one’s listening.” This points to an overall frustration felt by so many these days. They’re standing in a crowd, trying to get everyone to pay attention and no one’s listening.
To get noticed people feel pushed to take drastic action, feeling as if there is no other option. The track is quintessential Rise Against, musically rising and falling in all the right places, building the lyrical point to perfection.
Broken Dreams, Inc.
Broken Dreams, Inc was the first single release, appearing on the DC Dark Knight: Death Metal Soundtrack. Fans will be familiar with this track by now. It opens with a madly-busy opening bassline that’s just classic Joe. The song flows brilliantly with fast and furious riffs throughout and with its subtle resemblance to ‘Generation Lost’, this song will no doubt take the listener back to the bands earlier, heavier days.
It’s time to take a breather with the acoustic and harmonious, Forfeit – Nowhere Generations’ Swing Life Away. McIlrath’s vocals are the centrepiece of this acoustic track. Rise Against songs aren’t just musical activism. They’re about selling hope, and this track is exactly that. McIlrath stands firm -“I will not give up on you”. You feel genuine compassion in McIlrath’s voice.
The peacefulness is once again broken with the ferocity of drums as Monarch belts out a circle pit anthem that these guys are adored for. It’s pure controlled chaos, in the best way. There is a desperation in the message; to break away from control and find your voice. “I am not the person that you remember from before. The one you patronised, you stepped on, the one you hurt.” This is a song of evolution, strength and of outgrowing the one who holds you back. A bigger message, no doubt, lies within.
Sounds Like keeps up that rapid pace. The message to anyone listening is to stop waiting for something better, get out and create your own world. The point is straightforward – regain your power. Words without actions are nothing. The frustration and anger ring out through both words and music. The track eventually turns on itself giving hope, “Know what you’re waiting for. Don’t wait forever. Know what you’re living for.”
Sooner Or Later
Sooner Or Later, has that ominous feel of facing the music. The ‘climate change’ topic is a desperate one. This song screams out the warning of our impending doom if the urgency of the global climate situation is not addressed. This song asks whether we have left it all too late. With lyrics – “We will reap what we have sown. Our precious time is running out,” the track is a desperate plea to do something and do it now!
Middle Of A Dream
Another absolute pit monster of a track rings out with Middle of a Dream. Tim sings about following a dream but having no idea what it is. “I woke up in the middle of the dream, chasing someone or something, a face I hadn’t see.” Their music alone evoking an emotional response with the lyrics adding to the intensity.
It’s a song about the anxiety of chasing an opportunity or doing something while deep-down wondering if you are in fact chasing the right dream. It’s the fear of the unknown and double-guessing yourself.
Rules Of Play
The final track, Rules of Play, ends the album on a closing note of optimism. Tim sings about the importance of finding someone who sees the world through the same lens as you. When living in a world drowning in contradiction, it’s always good to find someone you feel sees the world as you do. That friendship is sometimes the fuel that keeps you going when times are hard. It’s a connection that can make life seem more tolerable and obstacles easier to overcome.
Rise Against have once again given the world a sonic wake-up call. They’ve called out the ignorance and inequality that runs rampant in our societies. Nowhere Generation may have just lit a fire in the belly of a world ready to stand up and resist.
Rise Against have given us 11 tracks full of truth, empowerment and compassion. Every song is deliberate and powerful in its message. If you get through this album without feeling the motivation to fight back, or feel pissed off at the unjust system or, for that matter, simply feel ready to take control of your own life, then you need to listen to ‘Nowhere Generation’ again… and again… and again! This album is nothing more than a punk masterpiece!
Punktuation’s Verdict: 5/5
Listen to Nowhere Generation HERE
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Everyone should have a soundtrack playing loudly in the background of their life. I was born moshing to my own beat and have never swayed from my love of music. Spreading my passion through the written word is my soul’s purpose. My punk heart beats loudly with the rhythm of my rock soul. I plan to continue to mosh like no one gives a shit.
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