10 Best Rise Against Songs
Rise Against have been raising the flag of intelligent punk rock for well over a decade now. Formed at the end of 1999 in Chicago, the band has released six studio albums to date. The current lineup consists of frontman Tim McIlrath, bassist Joe Principe, drummer Brandon Barnes and lead guitarist Zach Blair.
Their dedication to raising awareness of social and political issues have made Rise Against one of the most respected groups in rock. To celebrate their show with the Gaslight Anthem and Hot Water Music this Monday (September 17) at the Orbit Room, 97.9 GRD counts down the 10 best Rise Against songs!
"Architects" is the perfect opening rock track. Taken from Rise Against's 2011 album, Endgame, the song starts off with a blistering guitar riff before McIlrath questions how complacent our generation has become. "Are there no fighters left here anymore? Are we the generation we've been waiting for? Are we patiently burning, waiting to be saved," the singer muses. "Our heroes are icons that mellow with age / Following rules that they once disobeyed / They're now being led when they used to lead the way." The defiant anthem of "Architects" opens our list of the 10 Best Rise Against Songs.
Rise Against fans can go back to the group's 2001 debut, The Unraveling, to hear them at their rawest stage. Having been officially together as a band for only over a year, Rise Against were heavily influenced by hardcore punk bands like Black Flag. The break-up anthem "Six Ways 'Til Sunday" is a two-and-a-half-minute track that most of us can relate to. "You're claiming to be something different / So wanting to believe that you're better than the rest / So make up for your self-esteem," McIlrath accuses. "You talk to hear your own voice and / You've left me no choice but to choose / I miss the person that you were / But I don't miss you." The brutal honesty of "Six Ways 'Til Sunday" makes it number 9 on our 10 Best Rise Against Songs list.
Rise Against took a stand against American capitalism and child labor in "Prayer of the Refugee," the second single from 2006's The Sufferer and The Witness. While we enjoy the clothes we wear, the iPods we listen to and the countless other consumer goods we possess, the ugly truth is that some of these items were made from those less fortunate than us. "But we've been sweating while you slept so calm / In the safety of your home / We've been pulling out the nails that hold up / Everything you've known," McIlrath sings. The music video depicts Rise Against performing inside a retail store while scenes of children and foreigners show them packaging various products to ship to the U.S. The powerful statement of "Prayer of the Refugee" finds itself at number 8 on our Best Rise Against Songs list.
Fans were anticipating the release of Rise Against's fifth studio album, Appeal to Reason, and were not disappointed. Lead-off single "Re-Education (Through Labor)" tackles the theme of working our fingers to the bone. It's no secret that people in America and around the world are working more hours to make ends meet. "I won't crawl on my knees for you / I won't believe the lies that hide the truth / I won't sweat one more drop for you," McIlrath defiantly screams. The music video shows a group of young adults riding around in mopeds and dropping off backpacks throughout the city. It turns out there are bombs inside the backpacks and the kids detonate them, watching the city burn from afar as their revolution unfolds.
A significant departure from their usual sound, Rise Against stripped things down for their 2004 single, "Swing Life Away." The all-acoustic track has a happier tone for a Rise Against song, expressing contentment of a simple life that may have been more. "We live on front porches and swing life away / We get by just fine here on minimum wage," McIlrath insists. "If love is a labor I'll slave 'til the end / I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand." "Swing Life Away" was the first time a lot of fans heard Rise Against, and were surprised to discover that the band isn't so, well, quiet. However, we'll always welcome the softer side of Rise Against.
The Rise Against song "Audience of One" can have a different meaning to each individual. To some it can sound like the regret of letting the innocence of youth pass you by. "But we ran away / Now all my friends have gone / Maybe we've outgrown all the things that we once loved," reflects McIlrath. However, the music video seems to tell a different story, showing a young boy inside the White House who slightly resembles George W. Bush. The child is recklessly playing with a toy world reflecting current events, no doubt representing Rise Against's feelings toward the former president.
If you need a song to mosh to, look no further than "Give It All." Hell, there is a small mosh pit inside a Chicago train while Rise Against are playing in the music video. "For far too long these voices / Muffled by distances / It's time to come to our senses / And from the dark," McIlrath screams. Street crusaders vandalize the city of Chicago, but with the intention to raise social and political awareness. The group plays a Batman/Bruce Wayne-like role, changing into their office job clothes and leaving no trace of their secret lives.
Coming in at number 3 on our Best Rise Against Songs list is "Savior," the third single from Appeal to Reason. The tune runs in a similar vein as "Prayer of the Refugee," starting off calmly before quickly picking up the pace as the song goes on. Rise Against are experts on intertwining chaotic and melodic elements, reigning everything in before they go off the tracks. Trying to salvage a toxic relationship is a task that far too many people try to accomplish. "So tell me now / If this ain't love then how do we get out," asks McIlrath. "Because I don't know / That's when she said I don't hate you boy / I just want to save you while there's still something left to save."
"Make It Stop (September's Children)" is the perfect example of how music can be used for the good of society. The song was written in response to the string of teenagers committing suicide because they were bullied for being gay. "And too much blood has flown from the wrists / Of the children shamed for those they chose to kiss / Who will rise to stop the blood," McIlrath sings. The frontman revealed "Make It Stop" was also based on a gay friend who killed himself when he was young. Rise Against teamed up with the It Gets Better Project for the music video, which featured messages of hope from members of the non-profit group.
We've all obsessed over someone at one point in our lives. Those feelings can be pretty much summed up by Rise Against in "The Good Left Undone." "All because of you I haven't slept in so long," McIlrath reveals. "When I do I dream of drowning in the ocean / Longing for the shore where I can lay my head down / Inside these arms of yours." McIlrath expresses such strong feelings with an intense conviction in his voice, highlighted by the bass solo during the bridge. Even the music video is gritty, showing the band perform the song underground in the dirt. While the tone of "The Good Left Undone" is down and dark, the track rises to the top spot of our Best Rise Against Songs list.