The first time I listened to this album, I was confused, to say the least. Despite a strong start, these tracks seem to bear no real relation to one another and show very little resemblance to the passionate, energetic tunes of Revolutions per Minute (2003). Listening to the third track,I spent the full three minutes waiting for the song to take off — it never did. By the time I was halfway through the CD, I started to wonder what the hell had gone wrong.
“The last album was a lot better this,” I thought. “I wasn’t imagining it, was I?” After a long and disappointing hour, I threw Revolutions per Minute on just to remind myself what Rise Against really sounds like; that is when they’re at their best. I concluded that Revolutions per Minute is excellent, as I remembered it to be. So what’s gone so wrong?
Most of the songs on Sufferer and the Witness aren’t so bad, and one or two even have the quality I was expecting. I suppose the real problem was that there is no flow between the songs. The vibe switched from loud, punkish shouting (as usual) to the oddly serene and even bland. The result is a choppy album with little merit; one I don’t even want to listen to a second time.
That said, the latter half of the CD managed to gain a little momentum. I was finally starting to enjoy myself when the music stopped. I am so upset with this CD, I can’t believe it. Rise Against have been a favourite of mine ever since I heard Fire Engine Red on a Fat Wreck Chord comp. What a fantastic song! Excellent lyrically, great sound and played with such force. I was immediately enamoured with the group, and indeed, their album did nothing to dissuade me. It is with great sadness and frustration that I ask, what is this mess? What first was a greatly talented hardcore band has metamorphosed into producers of a mediocre and mainstream sound. For shame! Don’t go anywhere near this if you don’t want to sour your adoration of Rise Against. I’d take it back if I could, but even so, I loved the last album so much that I’d still grit my teeth and buy the next one. But that’s just me.
Rise Against (2003). Revolutions Per Minute [sound recording]. Fat Wreck Chords
Rise Against (2006). The Sufferer and the Witness [sound recording]. Geffen Records.