Rise Against: Long Forgotten Songs (Interscope)
Sept 9th 2013
This week sees the release of a new compilation of Rise Against rarities – Andy Carrington sorts the wheat from the chaff.
Being a self-confessed “old school Rise-head”, who has expressed a fair amount of scepticism towards Rise Against‘s musical direction in recent years, I felt a mix of uneasiness and excitement when I first heard the band unveil news about a compilation album containing early and newer songs.
Long Forgotten Songs, as it’s titled, features various b-sides, covers and tracks that have appeared in video games and on film OSTs throughout the past few years; and while it’s great hearing the older, “bonus” songs all in one place, some of the more recent tracks are admittedly rather underwhelming.
Now I’m not the type of music fan to hate an artist purely on the basis of them growing in stature, but Rise Against’s latter albums seem to contain a more “polished” sound striving for mainstream appeal. While this is still enjoyable to listen to, it does lack the edge of the band’s earlier work.
Listening to the likes of ‘Gethsemane’ and ‘Generation Lost’ (Revolutions Per Minute/The Unraveling) next to ‘Historia Calamitatum’ and ‘Elective Amnesia’ (Appeal to Reason) and the differences in the band’s sound become clear. Particularly hearing Chris Chasse’s guitar work on pre-ATR tracks is a stark reminder of the talent RA once had in that position.
The most striking change, at least to me, seems to be frontman Tim McIlrath’s voice, which has gotten more refined with every album. This is not necessarily a criticism – he’s a very talented vocalist, admittedly – but as far as my personal preference goes, I like the harsh, screamy pissed off McIlrath on tracks like ‘Join the Ranks’ and ‘Built to Last’ (a cover of the Sick Of It All song from 1997).
It’s not like McIlrath isn’t capable reaching his aggressive heights anymore, either – check ‘Grammatizator’/’Voice Of Dissent’ from RA’s recent self-titled 7″ EP and a re-recording of ‘Obstructed View’ from Siren Song of the Counter Culture for evidence of this – I just think maybe the band as a whole prefers a more “mellow” sound nowadays.
Anyway, this review is starting to sound like it may be going down the negative route, which is unfair considering this is still a pretty good compilation overall. As well as the brilliant SOIA rendition, standout cover tracks include ‘Ballad Of Hollis Brown’, which brings an energetic, melodic punk twist to the Bob Dylan classic; a cover of Minor Threat’s self titled song is pretty strong as well; and RA does more than hold its own on the Nirvana cover ‘Silver’.
There’s an acoustic version of one of Rise’s early tracks, ‘Everchanging’, which works really well, and live version of ‘Give it All’ from the Rock Against Bush compilation. Contributions to the Avengers Assemble and Lords of Dogtown soundtracks (‘Dirt and Roses’/’Nervous Breakdown’) are also included; as is ‘Death Blossoms’, a track exclusive to the video game Guitar Hero: World Tour.
Rise Against is one the bands responsible for getting me interested in punk rock, and for that reason I hold a lot of respect for Tim and co. (Revolutions Per Minute is still one of the best albums out there in my eyes). Though the new music isn’t up to the standard of the old, I still find it listenable and will continue to take an interest in future releases. I’m pretty certain the new and long standing fans will be divided on this one though.
Old vs. New
A full breakdown of the tracks can be read below:
– ‘Historia Calamitatum’: Appeal to Reason (2008) bonus track
– ‘Death Blossoms’: featured on Guitar Hero: World Tour
– ‘Elective Amnesia’: Appeal to Reason (2008) bonus track
– ‘Grammatizator’ from the self-titled 7” (2009)
– ‘Blind’: A cover of the Face to Face song from the Rise Against/Face to Face split 7”
– ‘Everchanging’: Acoustic version of the song from The Unraveling(2001)
– ‘Generation Lost’: Revolutions Per Minute (2003) bonus track
– ‘Dirt and Roses’: Avengers Assemble OST
– ‘Ballad of Hollis Brown’: Bob Dylan cover
– ‘Sight Unseen’: From the Rise Against/Anti-flag vinyl split (2009)/featured in the video game Injustice: Gods of War
– ‘Lanterns’: Endgame (2011) bonus track
– ‘Making Christmas’: Danny Elfman cover/Nightmare Revisited OST
– ‘Join the Ranks’: The Unraveling (2001) bonus track
– ‘Built to Last’: Sick of it All cover/The Sufferer & the Witness (2006) bonus track
– ‘Voice of Dissent’: from the self-titled 7” (2009)
– ‘Little Boxes’: Malvina Reynolds cover/Weeds OST
– ‘Give ot All’: Live version from Rock Against Bush Vol.1 (2004)
– ‘Minor Threat’: Minor Threat cover
– ‘Obstructed View’: Siren Song of the Counter Culture (2004) bonus track
– ‘But Tonight We Dance’: The Sufferer & the Witness (2006) bonus track
– ‘Nervous Breakdown’: Lords of Dogtown OST
– ‘Gethsemane’: The Unraveling (2001) bonus track
– ‘Boy’s No Good’: Lifetime cover/The Sufferer & the Witness (2006) bonus track
– ‘Anyway You Want It’: Journey cover/Revolutions Per Minute (2003) bonus track
– ‘Silver’: Nirvana cover
– ‘Ghost of Tom Joad’: Bruce Springsteen cover