Review of Rise Against’s debut album The Unraveling

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Rise Against are my all time favourite band, playing a mixture of genres but mainly melodic hardcore punk, and The Unraveling was their first full album.

A bit of introduction information about what I think of them:
Vocals – Tim McIlrath switches between clean vocals, shouted vocals and screamed vocals.
Guitars – Nothing particularly outstanding, but they do their job well, with good riffs and chord progressions, and the occasional solo.
Bass – Same as with the guitars, it does its job perfectly fine, but I can’t think of anything especially amazing about it.
Drums – Switches between a basic hardcore rhythm and the general rock rhythm, depending on the song. Can do some impressive fills and rhythms, but usually just does what is necessary.

And now each song individually:
Alive and Well
A good starter for the album. A fast, loud song to really get things going. One of the better songs of the album, in my opinion. It has a bridge section towards the end with some totally clean vocals from Tim McIlrath (not even shouted, as he usually does).

My Life Inside Your Heart
Slower then Alive and Well, but still good. Again, some cleaner vocals from Tim, and I personally really like the main guitar riff of the song. There’s no hardcore rhythm on the drums in this one, but it doesn’t need it for the speed of the song. A mini breakdown thing comes along about 2 minutes in, and doesn’t really do much except make the next chorus sound that much louder in comparison.

Great Awakening
Back to the loud and fast here, hardcore drumming and shouted/screamed vocals included. I don’t like this song as much as some others, perhaps because it seems to good, and then it’s just GONE after a minute and a half. I know that short songs are common for Rise Against, and the genre in general, but in my opinion, this song should definitely be longer.

Six Ways Till Sunday
My second favourite of the entire album. The drumming is an interesting mix of a hardcore rhythm and a basic rock rhythm, which honestly confuses me, yet sounds good. Tim McIlrath’s vocals are just great in this song – there’s a loud, but not quite shouted, feeling to them. The chorus to this song is just so catchy and, combined with the “crowd” effect they use, you’ll find yourself singing along.

This song manages to sound heavy, without being particularly fast. This may be somewhat due to the vocals alternating between shouts/screams and clean vocals. There are a few parts where it sounds almost dissonant, but in a good way. The kind of mathcore dissonant, that somehow works. So it’s not like Tim McIlrath is out of tune, because these notes are obviously deliberate.

The Art of Losing
Hard, fast, heavy. Almost completely screamed vocals, constant hardcore drumming and loud guitars. Or at least, that’s how it starts. There’s a section near the end that gives the whole song a bit of an anticlimax. There’s backing vocals in this song that I don’t really like, I just think they’re a bit unnecesary.

Remains of Summer Memories
Another song that’s just too short. It carries on the speed of the song before, but isn’t quite as heavy sounding. Much cleaner vocals and a general rock rhythm on the drums see to that. It’s definitely a good song, yet it’s not even a minute and a half long.

The Unraveling
Title track for the album. A lot quieter and slower than other songs, making it that much more effective. Tim McIlrath alternates well between screams and clean vocals. The drum part to this song is just epic, managing to sound amazing even in a song as slow as this. In my opinion, this song isn’t as great as some of the others on the album, but it’s decent enough to be a title track.

Reception Fades
Faster and heavier again, and I honestly really like this song. But like in The Art of Losing, there’s some backing vocals that bring the song down. I can’t quite tell what’s wrong with them, but I just really don’t like them. Apart from that, the song is really good.

Stained Glass and Marble
Heavy and fast in this song. This song has backing vocals that I don’t mind, but that’s because they backing vocals are shouts, not clean singing like in the other songs. I really like the riff/chord progression of the guitars in this song. This song is short, but it fits this song.

My overall favourite song of the album. Clean vocals from Tim McIlrath, and good guitars. No hardcore drumming, which is alright for the song, but there’s a lot of bass drum in it. Somehow, miraculously, there’s backing vocals that are singing that I don’t mind! I think that’s only because there are so quiet that I can just ignore them and listen to Tim McIlrath. The chorus is especially catchy and I find myself singing along, however many times I’ve heard the song. There’s a breakdown in the middle, where everything cuts out except the vocals and drums, and guitars just ring out. It also goes down to half time at this point. The next section after this is amazing, as everything comes back in and the backing vocals are just harmonizing “ahhh”s in the background. Brilliant song.

Sometimes Selling Out Is Giving Up
This song clocks in at only 1 minute 9 seconds, which is too short for this song, especially as some of it is a guitar solo. The vocals are great though, with the brilliant line of “How can you ask me to just forget?”

3 Day Weekend
Even shorter than Sometimes Selling Out Is Giving Up, with 1 minute 3 seconds. But I don’t really like this song very much, so I don’t mind its brevity. There’s not much else to say though, as there’s not much of the song itself to talk about.

1000 Good Intentions
Another of my favourites from the album. I really like the guitar chord progression, but I think the verses are too quiet. The chorus sounds good, with louder guitars and drums, but the verses don’t have any of this. I like the song, but it really could have been better. I can imagine that the bridge section would do really well played live, as the audience would get involved. But I don’t know, as I’ve never seen them live (but I’m going in a few months! So excited!!)

Weight of Time
This song starts off being really driven by the bass guitar, with the guitars following the bass. Then the overall sound changes and it all switches to the guitars. It also slows down, and becomes too slow in my opinion.

Faint Resemblance
Back to the loud fast stuff, with a hardcore rhythm on the drums and loud guitars. The vocals are shouted, in that excellent middle-ground between screaming and clean vocals, except some parts are just clean. There’s a short instrumental section, that I really like. The guitars and drums work together really well. In the last minute of the song, it all goes into half time, which sounds good, even though generally I find it kind of annoying when things slow down.

Join the Ranks (only found on the re-release)
Even faster and heavier than the last song, emphasised by the half time section at the end of the Faint Resemblance. There’s some really good work in the snare drum in this song. The guitars and bass do their jobs well, including an amazing guitar solo, which is unusual for a Rise Against song.

Gethsemane (only found on the re-release)
Slower than some of the other songs, with a brilliant guitar riff throughout the verse. Everything really starts up in the chorus though, with an increase in speed as well. After the second chorus, there’s a section that sounds almost like it could have come from a mathcore band, with screamed vocals and hits on the guitars and drums that seem almost irregular. This section comes back at the very end as well.

So as a début album, The Unraveling is excellent. They had released a demo before this, but all the songs on the demo were re-recorded and put on The Unraveling anyway. Now I wasn’t into this kind of music when this album was first released, but I got my hands on the re-released version and loved it instantly. I then checked out some of Rise Against’s other stuff and that was the start of my love/obsession for Rise Against. Every album since then has found its way to my collection, and I don’t regret the money I spent. So I advise you to check out Rise Against and see what you think.


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