Rise Against – Nowhere Generation (Album Review)

Rise Against – Nowhere Generation
Released: June 4, 2021

Line Up:

Tim McIlrath // vocals, guitar
Zach Blair // lead guitar
Joe Principe // bass
Brandon Barnes // drums


Official Website

Rise Against, is a band synonymous with using their music to make a point, whether about social issues, the current political environment, or the economic state of the US. Nowhere Generation is no different, with Tim McIlrath stating “our hope on this record is to jostle people awake, even if it makes you uncomfortable.”

‘The Numbers’ begin with the stereotypical fascist call to arms music before being disrupted by a heavy guitar riff, and a driving drum beat soon follows. The 5-minute epic, sets the tone of the album, a call to arms about the corruption of those in power, and how despite our mass numbers, they “break us like horses”. Rise Against’s extended metaphor of the general public being horses, who have the power to throw our oppressors off, is fitting giving songwriter McIlrath’s values (and veganism). ‘Sudden Urge’ has a more rock and roll feel, but with an anarchist punk sentiment, about watching “this whole town burn”.

First single ‘Nowhere Generation’ starts with full vocals, before the drums and guitars really kick in. The song is heavily inspired by the band’s children and their fans, who represent the titular “nowhere generation”, who are unsatisfied by the status quo. ‘Talking To Ourselves’ is an uptempo song that expresses the sense of futility in trying to make a stand and express yourself when you feel as if no one is listening, or taking you seriously. As McIlrath explains “it describes a lot of what Rise Against does, to speak and scream when we feel there are things that are happening that aren’t being addressed.”

Continuing with McIlrath’s distinctive, smooth vocals, and Barnes’ driving drum beat underlining the punk rock guitar riffs, ‘Broken Dreams Inc’ takes the band’s anger and frustration with the world to another level, repeating the phrases “broken dreams incorporated” in the coda, to drive the point home. ‘Forfeit’ strips everything back, creating a haunting ballad with violins, acoustic guitars, and a piano. Picking up the tempo, ‘Monarch’ is hard, fast and heavy, very much hardcore melodic punk with beautiful harmonies sprinkled throughout.

‘Sounds Like’ explores the exasperation of individuals waiting for something better, not knowing when and if it will come. ‘Sooner Or Later’ uses powerful imagery of death, and hopelessness, leaning towards a more rock sound until the scream of “our precious time is running out” two minutes or so into the song. ‘Middle Of A Dream’ follows, a song about the our dreams versus the sobering reality of life. The final song ‘Rules Of Play’ ties the themes of the album together, the pain of the oppressed, the lack of opportunities for those who try to do the right thing, but having no power to change the arbitrary rules, with the lyrics, “this life is a game I don’t know how to play”, repeated throughout the song.

Rise Against’s goal of riling people up, and making them realise the inequality of the world in which we live in, has been achieved tenfold with Nowhere Generation. If you don’t feel the need to disrupt the norm, rebel against those in power, or generally feel pissed off, after listening to this album, were you really listening?

Rise Against – Nowhere Generation tracklisting:

1. The Numbers
2. Sudden Urge
3. Nowhere Generation
4. Talking To Ourselves
5. Broken Dreams Inc
6. Forfeit
7. Monarch
8. Sounds Like
9. Sooner Or Later
10. Middle Of A Dream
11. Rules Of Play

Rating: 9/10
Nowhere Generation is out Friday on Loma Vista Recordings. Pre-Order here
Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos

Don’t forget to check out our chat with Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath here

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