Release Date: June 9, 2017
Genre: Punk Rock/Alternative Rock
Label: Virgin Records
While Rise Against’s eighth studio album was released last summer, the band’s biggest tour dates in support of the record have been taking place throughout the summer and fall of 2018 (the band are heading to the Bay Area this Friday for the ‘Mourning in Amerika’ Tour with AFI and Anti-Flag). As the years pass by, Rise Against have evidently never strayed from their ethos and values, nor much from their hard-hitting punk rock sound that fills everywhere from clubs to theaters to arenas around the world. With eleven tracks that were written during the 2016 presidential election, Wolves represents a band that are advocating for the end of injustice, creating a world in which these ideas of inequality and injustice are torn apart at the seams.
The eponymous title track opens with a bang before powering into “House on Fire”, a powerful track that ties together personal stories with the band’s politically-charged lyrics. "The Violence” is a track that questions one’s self-worth in this post-Trump era, questioning whether or not our society will rise above the violent nature that’s had a massive light shined upon it in America. “Welcome To The Breakdown” is a scathing critique of President Trump, in which vocalist Tim McIlrath has absolutely no shame in letting people know that they’ve been played and scammed.
“Far From Perfect” proves to be one of the most inspiring and hope-filled tracks on Wolves, reminiscent of a track like “The Dirt Whispered” from 2008’s Appeal To Reason. “Bullshit” continues that aforementioned criticism of the current administration, seemingly speaking out to the people in power that could have prevented such an administration from taking over in the first place. “Politics of Love” changes pace, stepping away from the overall American political tone of the album, and bringing forth a track that reflects on lost love.
Wolves picks back up with “Parts Per Million” and what could be considered the album’s anthem, “Mourning in Amerika”. The dynamic and effectual “How Many Walls” questions why change is taking so long to happen, and why people are so stuck in their ways (“How many walls can you put up?/How many guns ‘til you feel safe/How many times can we watch this story/over and over and over again?”). The album’s climax comes in the form of “Miracle”, a three-and-a-half minute call to arms, pushing for all of those sitting still and watching the days pass by to get up and do something.
If there’s one thing that Rise Against can provide, it’s consistency, within their lyrical prowess, punk rock sensibilities (no matter how big the venues may get), and their ability to rally their fans when it comes to making a change. They’re not a band that uses their fame for the sake of fame; their music makes waves because it spots things that are wrong in the world, makes people aware of the problems, and inspires people to take action. Wolves is simply a continuation of their ability and that spirit they carry with them.