Rise Against: Politics and Punk

Mark McConville

Politics and punk go hand and hand. Since the genre’s courageous, cut throat inception, many bands have written punk songs riffled with political lyricism, bridging the gap and creating discussions. Many acts including Green Day and NOFX, have nailed political masterstrokes, prompting responses from fans and followers. These records, take aim at the hierarchy, the presidential ruin.

One band from Chicago has infused their music, littered it with political lyrics, managing to keep their flame lit over the years. That band is Rise Against. They’re an outfit of musicians dedicated to unravelling the truth, not by making music which people expect, but delivering sounds many people will cascade into for closure.



Since their start in 1999, Rise Against has built up a collection of albums. Their debut record The Unravelling was a slow burner but did contain songs fused together with political honesty. Songs such Alive And Well and Reception Fades, kick-started a small revolution. They blended into the mix, engrossing and meaningful in their delivery. And on the band went, with burning desire, cracking the status quo, breaking through a darkness so draining.

With The Unravelling pushing Rise Against forward, the band released a second record 2 years later. That record is Revolutions Per Minute, an abundant album purposeful in its content. It drew people in who wanted to listen to music which was made to provoke. It wasn’t a dazzling effort, far from being a phenomenon, but what it did was create a connection between fan and band. Political urgency crept up and delivered its blows.



Onwards and upwards it was for a Chicago saving grace, as songs such Heaven Knows and Like The Angel, kept Revolutions Per Minute in the minds of those punks looking for a place to rest their heavy burdens, through punk anything can happen. And after Revolutions Per Minute, Rise Against picked up their instruments and knotted together a wonder in Siren Songs Of Counter Culture. A record which catapulted a band of humble punk travelers into the limelight.

Siren Songs Of Counter Culture was another punk driven record. It was aimed at a world which dropped to its knees. The band peaked here, in command of what they wanted to tell, what they wanted to spill. And through this record, it all happened, Rise Against were showcasing a bubbling rage towards America. Songs included Life Less Frightening and Anywhere But Here, these were tracks basted in spit and repent.



After the tide that was Siren Songs Of Counter Culture, Rise Against drew up plans to release their next opus. The album in question was The Sufferer And The Witness in 2006. An album which had a more polished sound, but still bonded in blood and distrust for a crippling world. It could be said that this was Rise Against at their best, their volatile best. Injection and The Good Left Undone are songs which lift the record to enormous heights. Following on from such a stellar contribution, Appeal To Reason was born. It connected well with fans, who may have fallen out of sync entirely. It was drenched in political viewpoints, scathing lyrics, powerful riffs.

And as Appeal To Reason lit up a new path for Rise Against, 2011 was centered on their new record Endgame, which came under fire from fans. It wasn’t punk enough, and its polished sound grated on many, but politics still remained a major theme. The Black Market followed on and came under the same inspection. It’s layered, ultimately fabricated sound didn’t quite hit those past heights.

But Rise Against ignite 2017 with their new record Wolves. It is a political masterstroke, studded with sneers and views. It truly has reinstated Rise Against as a powerhouse band. The act seem invigorated on Wolves, totally fresh and ready for the fight.





Mark McConville is a freelance music journalist from Scotland. He has written for many online publications and print. He also immerses himself in creating short stories and poetic strands


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