Year 5, Day 4: Rise Against’s Siren Song of the Counter Culture

Year 5, Day 4: Rise Against – Siren Song of the Counter Culture

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Track List

  1. State of the Union
  2. The First Drop
  3. Life Less Frightening
  4. Paper Wings
  5. Blood to Bleed
  6. To Them These Streets Belong
  7. Tip the Scales
  8. Anywhere but Here
  9. Give It All
  10. Dancing for Rain
  11. Swing Life Away
  12. Rumors of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

About the Album

Siren Song of the Counter Culture is the third album from American punk band, Rise Against. The album was recorded from December 2003 through May 2004 and released on August 10th 2004, through Geffen records. The album was on of the band’s first commercially successful albums, despite peaking at 136 on the Billboard 200. The album is certified Gold by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).

Thoughts on the Album

Punk is one of those genres of music that didn’t original speak to me. It was loud noise… but then at one point it hit me like a ton of bricks. One of the first punk albums I ever listened to was today’s featured album, Rise Against‘s Siren Song of the Counter Culture. With the success of Revolutions Per Minute, the band signed a major label deal with Geffen. 2004’s Siren Song of the Counter Culture gave the band an almost meteoric rise to stardom. That said the album perfectly combines the two sub-genres of punk: hardcore and melodic. This combination gave it more accessibility to more listeners.

The production of the album is smooth and clean all around. Compared to albums of similar style and sound, it is not your standard three chord punk rock album. Everything about the guitar work on matches extremely well to each song, right down to the guitar solos. Not one solo seems out of place; nor does any power chord or octave.

The album opens with the rage filled State of the Union which for those who may be listening to the album (or the band) for the first time might be just a wee bit jarring at first. It’s a frantic, rapid-fire, raging, hardcore punk track that is an open criticism on modern day life. While featuring the most screaming on the album, it is nonetheless a crowd favorite at live shows and concerts. The First Drop tones it down, but for me it’s really not that memorable. It’s more of a bridge to the third single (and third track) Life Less Frightening.

Life Less Frightening, is closer to an alt-rocker than it is punk. It compliments The First Drop well and is similar in tone. But I guess it’s just one of those strange things were I prefer one track over the other. It’s underlying punk traits, keep it from being too bland. That said the lyrics and vocals on this song (and album). The lyrics are politically motivated and socially conscious, but none of the lyrics are over the top. Rise Against makes their point in effective ways. Life Less Frightening is an excellent example of this. The metaphors used in this song (and throughout the album) are simple and easy to comprehend.

I don’t ask for much, truth be told I’d settle for a life less frightening

One of my favorite songs from this album has to be Give It All. It’s short, loud, and in your face. An interesting choice for the first single off the album, it was an excellent choice. The track in style and tone is similar to many faster paced The Offspring songs. It’s a gimmick free song that is straightforward, sung with a passion and rage. The track keeps their hardcore edge alive. The chant section of the bridge is wonderful, especially when fused with the palm-muted guitar bridge. This serves as a transition into the final chorus which just explodes before going into a double time outro that increases the ferocity by 100.

The first true guitar lead of the album can be found in Paper Wings. The song also features incredible versatility as it blends distorted electric guitar with acoustic guitar. Of course the song features two of the most quintessential Rise Against elements: excellently written lyrics and some undeniable flow. The chord progression on this track is memorable. Swing Life Away is a whole ‘nother example of this versatility. Frontman Tim McIlrath is at his best on this track. Featuring McIlrath on vocals and an acoustic guitar, McIlrath works his magic, as his smoothing voice works throughout the song. The acoustic guitar never lingers in the background for too long and is kept interesting. Overally it’s a superb song that sets itself apart from the rest of the songs on the album.

Conclusion

For genre of music that generally scares off mainstream listeners due to the genre’s ferocity, tone, or even activism, Rise Against does an excellent job of bridging the gap between hardcore punk and the mainstream with Sire Song of the Counter Culture. Compared to the first two albums, everything is done right on this album. Every track takes on a life of its own and relatively different from one to the next. Overall, it’s a versatile, musically sound album that bridges the gap between mainstream rock listeners and hardcore listerners. Definitely one of the best albums of 2004.

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