Updated: Jun 2, 2021
GROWING UP, MY MUSIC TASTE was definitely a little different than it is today. While most kids tend to hit that edgy phase of music during middle school, I had mine in elementary school. Yea, little sus, I know. Sure there were other genres I’d listen to on occasion, but the majority of the time I was going with straight Fall Out Boy, Green Day, Linkin Park, Papa Roach and Skillet. Even though I had those bands on repeat, to this day the one that really stood out was Rise Against. Even before I could begin to comprehend the meaning behind their songs, something about their specific take on the punk rock sound really stuck with me, a lasting impression that lives on. I find it kinda funny though. I was drawn to the band as a kid mainly because of the sound and emotion their music evokes. Now that I’m older, I’ve really come to appreciate the true meaning behind their work, work that covers topics such as animal rights, environmentalism, humanitarianism, mental health, and political injustice. It’s almost poetic that I unintentionally grew into a belief system mirroring much of what they stand for. Huh, maybe I actually picked up more than I thought? As we approach the release of their 9th album just a few weeks away, it seems like no better time than the present to look back at a few favorites from their early albums.
EVERCHANGING: the first one is a breakup song from the first album the band released under the name “Rise Against” (previously known as “Transistor Revolt”) -- The Unraveling. While it may not be one of the band’s more well known songs, it’s a great timestamp on the long career of the group. Along with others off the album, it can really transport you to another era of music. If you think of breakup songs today, you’ll probably think of some moody Billie Eilish or Juice Wrld song. But, back in 2001, aggressive electric guitars and heavy drums were the cure all for numbing the pain. Over the course of their career, RA’s lyricism always seems to make waves, thanks to their excellent ability of getting in the head of their listeners through their words, continuously pulling out more and more emotion of their songs. Everchanging is no different, it’s just cool to see it done at such an early stage in their career.
LIKE THE ANGEL: on the flip side of breakup songs, you can easily find infatuation songs. You know, the “I don't know your name but excuse me miss, I saw you from across the room” type of songs? Like the Angel is more or less the punk version of that, and it’s forever my personal favorite off their second album, Revolutions Per Minute. It’s not like some of RA’s other songs that will make you sit there and rethink your perspective on life, but again, just like Everchanging, the group does a great job of creating a song that captures human emotion. This time around, instead of being in fear of a breakup, it’s excitement for things to come. The beating drums and rapid guitar chords play like the increasingly pounding heartbeat you have as a result of seeing a bad chick (or guy, depending on who's speaking) at the bar. You know, that feeling you get when you see someone attractive and everything else around the two of you fades away? That’s essentially the emotion this song illustrates. High energy and heavy on the instrumentals, but another dope ass song.
PRAYER OF THE REFUGEE: while the first 2 are more IYKYK, this song is still one of the band’s most well known to date, and rightfully so. A single from the band’s fourth album, The Sufferer & The Witness, Prayer of the Refugee highlights the path that immigrants and refugees have to walk in order to get by in America, a message that should be relevant to much of the country’s population. Outside of the meaning, one aspect that immediately pops out to listeners is the song’s format. Yea, it does follow the traditional verse-chorus-verse format, but HOW they are performed is what’s so special. Each verse starts somewhat lowkey, talking about the lives and struggles immigrants are faced with, building up to each chorus. Once the chorus is reached, everything that’s developed boils over, releasing in a rage that is a little bit resent, and a little bit defiant. More so on this song than others, every piece seems to come together perfectly, acting almost as if a war cry, empowering listeners to fight for themselves, their families, and their communities. It’s badass, and is a song that should never be skipped.