Hey look, Rise Against released a new album. Wolves is the band’s eighth full length studio album, and if you haven’t accepted the fact that they’ve settled into a very specific sound by now, you’re in for a world of disappointment. It’s been eleven years (!) since the band put out The Sufferer & the Witness, and other than switching out one guitarist for another, very little else has changed since then. Whether that’s a pro or a con is up to the listener.
Wolves is full of melodic-punk songs that could easily be interchanged with tracks off The Black Market without anyone noticing. That sounds like an insult, but it’s not meant to be one. Much like many of their Fat Wreck and Epitaph contemporaries, Rise Against have found their comfort zone and are sticking to it. Sure, Tim unleashes his scream here and there, like in the title track or “Too Many Walls” and there’s a hint of ska in “Bullshit” but the album is largely filled with 3 and a half minute songs that coast the line between societal politics and personal politics and are loaded with plenty of harmonizing “whoas.” Sometimes it pays off (“House on Fire” and “Mourning in Amerika” are catchy enough to satisfy anyone who enjoyed past singles “Tragedy + Time” and “Audience of One”) and sometimes it doesn’t (“Far from Perfect,” and “Politics of Love” aren’t terrible, but they’re certainly not memorable either).
“Megaphone” and “Broadcast[Signal]Frequency” are among the best songs on the album and it’s a shame that they’ve been relegated to bonus track status. Both are fast and aggressive- two traits that are often missing from the band’s current output. If you’re only going to listen to a handful of songs from the album, make it these two. They don’t accurately reflect the album proper, but to put it bluntly, these two songs are to Wolves what “Grammatizor” and “Voice of Dissent” were to Appeal to Reason.
Wolves might be Rise Against’s safest album yet. If you can get past that, however, Wolves isn’t all that bad of an album.
3 / 5 stars
RIYL: Anti-Flag, Pennywise, Bad Religion