On "Architects," the opener of Rise Against's hard-hitting sixth album, "Endgame" (DGC/ Interscope), singer Tim McIlrath outlines the dilemma that every agent of change faces.
"Do you still believe in all the things that you stood by before?" he asks in the catchiest part of the song.
It's a question that's on the minds of the original punks in their 40s and all the emo kids settling into adult jobs as they close in on 30, with Green Day's musical already addressing it on Broadway. And it's obviously at the top of the minds of Rise Against, as the Chicago punks could land their first No. 1 album with "Endgame."
McIlrath resolves the band's issue by declaring their desire to fight, as the thrash punk verses of "Architects" would telegraph. "Make no mistake," he shouts. "We are not afraid."
But Rise Against isn't standing still, either. The punishing pace and the thunderous riffs smooth out a little here. The first single, "Help Is on the Way," already a Top 3 rock hit, has more harmonies than shrieks, and is as catchy as it is passionate. For "Make It Stop (September's Children)," they create a hard-rocking anti-bullying anthem, looking to offer hope to outcasts and ending with a recitation of the names of bullied teens who committed suicide.
Some punk traditionalists may dismiss it as corny, but most will see it like the rest of "Endgame" -- excellent and effective.
BOTTOM LINE Defiantly growing up without growing old