Rise Against – Wolves

Rise Against WolvesThere’s something in your eyes that shakes me back to life…

Smacking a wall is all manner of stupid, yet natural as breathing when Wolves belts brain, boils blood and pumps adrenaline so violently you risk an impromptu surfing session regardless of your locale or penchant for board sports. Book-ended by two of the most rip-roaring rock tunes in years, to term Wolves ‘great’ is a write-off and far too stingy when it sits the best bit of punk rock in over a decade.

Rise Against are old crows at this point. Ranting since the early 2000s when the Bush administration was in full swing and America had entered phase two of the end times, the Chicago rockers’ message hasn’t been one of subtlety but wisdom, and all sandwiched between some of the catchiest, most well produced rock of the last couple of decades. Wolves is an easy argument for Rise’ place on the landscape. Politically charged and with a pantheon of hugely successful tunes, Tim and co. have yet to phone it in, striking a masterful mix of commentary and fast-paced feel goodery. In 2017, Wolves stays the course – sans moderation and needless evangelism.

The passion in Rise Against’ latest lets up for no one. Heavier past offerings, Siren Song of the Counter Culture and The Sufferer and the Witness, provided an if-but-brief bit of respite; four minutes harmonious and there to help catch breath (Swing Life Away, Roadside, Hero of War). In 2017, there’s no quiet strumming or ballad and the lack thereof is noticeable in just how knackering things feel by the close. Wolves‘ breathless assault isn’t in detriment to its flow and this manic progression may even be preferable for those looking to spike a bit more punk in their P&R. 

Explosive title track to the uplifting grin of closing number Miracle (maybe everything is going to be OK?), Wolves’ slew of lyricism, skin-spiking octaves and unfaltering energy speaks volumes to a band coming up on their forties. 2014’s The Black Market wasn’t a bad shout but bar decent belters The Great Die-Off and The Eco-Terrorist in Me, it didn’t shatter earth. Wolves is Rise Against back to their best: intelligent punk in a fierce and foamy swell. Yep, the world’s still on fire but at least someone’s there to watch the tide.

Rise Against – Wolves

Periphery III: Select Difficulty

 

RiffSlip into the fray, slip between the night and day…

Countless retreats from new music’s murky creek has given me a renewed appreciation for patience. A lovely racket kicks off only to be met with hesitance? Perhaps it’ll be a few more years before I can make a good case as to why gutturals and walls of noise steal my attention like a seagull turf war. Keen for the stroll but never one to stay too far, if something heavy pops up, you can bet I’ll be there; though at the back, with a healthy hesitance in tow.

Washington D.C was the most recent victim of my arbitrary let-it-grow-on-you period. For years I’d written off Periphery as that great sounding band with the god-awful vocalist but deep down, I knew we’d get on if we put in the work.

Instrumentally, ‘Riff was cracking! Low-tuning chugged things and the odd percussion assault moved forward the melancholy when things got a tad too devastating. The vocals is where it all took a tumble.

The two styles of frontman Spencer Sotello (best described as ‘melodic nasal’ and ‘yelling’) did well to complicate my enjoyment of Periphery. Never one to knock a good whine, I too have my limits, and Periphery danced dangerously close to that… edge. For years, I’d veer from the D.C. djents. Not quite my cup of tea.

At its core, Periphery III: Select Difficulty is a metal record. More interesting is the tinkering it boasts to a genre adored by few, despised by most – the Rum & Rasin of the music world.

Rife with deviance and a subversion, P3 mucks with metal, pulling at threads and paying tribute to the genre’s strangest pastimes. Playful and confident, it curls invention around its finger and from pop-punk to 90s power ballads, the sixty-four minute symposium just dares listeners to pigeonhole.

Catch Fire punches with a 90s-fuelled bop and a snare so thick with reverb it could have been recorded in a cave. The Way the News Goes marks the album’s second act and puts forth a synth-pop & blast beat concoction a duet unlikely, but effective all the same. Not without pure slammers, P3‘s frenetic opener The Price is Wrong heads straight for the throat whilst brother-in-arms Motormouth continues the assault, putting forth a sharp-tongued manifesto against anyone looking to dispel another’s well-earned, headspace.

Standouts here are the mood pieces, those drifting closer to progressive ballads. Absolomb, Flatline and Lune all bring a sombreness to proceedings, lathering layers of poignancy and time running dry.

A band I’d banished to the hills, Periphery’s Select Difficulty is a sanding of edges to erect something eerily perfect. I’ve never heard anything like P3, and I doubt I will again.

Periphery III: Select Difficulty