2014' incarnation of Rise Against is not the band they used to be in the early 2000’s. Or even in 2008. These guys have long since moved away from the raw punk sounds of “Revolutions Per Minute”, adopted a poppier sound that keeps in getting poppier and claimed their place in the mainstream. 2011’s “Endgame” might have once again come with a couple of faster songs but if you were hoping to hear more of that, then “The Black Market” is not going to be the album you want to hear.
The swirling, melodic guitars, pounding drums , the big chorus and Tim’s gruff vocals in opening track “The Great Die-Off” can pass for what is considered vintage Rise Against these days. But pretty much the same can be said for lead single “I Don’t Want To Be Here Anymore”, “Time + Tragedy” with its extremely poppy chorus, the title track… well, it basically goes for most of the songs on here. And that’s my biggest problem with “The Black Market”… Rise Against have settled in their sound and now seem to be content writing the same song over and over again.
The three worst songs of the album don’t suffer from same-ness though. They have even bigger issues. “Sudden Life” and “Zero Visibility” are absolute stinkers…are these guys trying to a hardrock band now? Do they want to tour with Nickelback? I don’t know what the idea is here but it blows. And when they go acoustic in the anti-war lament that is “People Live Here” things get downright cheesy with sweeping string arrangements and lines like ‘do you cry my name in the dark like I cry yours?’… seriously Tim, you’re 35. You can do better.
There are still some traces of the old Rise Against on here with the fast-paced, pissed off “The Eco-Terrorist In Me” and “Awake Too Long”. And most of the other songs have elements in them that are good but somehow it doesn’t seem to click this time. A lot of it feels forced, like their heart isn’t in it anymore and they are just going through the motions at this point. And as a longtime Rise Against fan, that just plain sucks.