The Sufferer & The Witness
At this point in their career, Chicago quartet Rise Against are, by all accounts, a well-oiled punk-rock machine. So when you put on The Sufferer & The Witness and hear galloping drumbeats, the powerful tenor of frontman Tim McIlrath, a sprinkling of gang vocals and a severe case of the catchy-chorus flu, you could write it off as “more of the same” for the band, or you could realize that no one plays melodic punk better than Rise Against in 2006. From midtempo singalongs like “Ready To Fall” and “Under The Knife” to the frenetic “Bricks” and “Drones” (guaranteed to start circle pits wherever played), Sufferer delivers blow after blow, polished to perfection by producer Bill Stevenson. Even the stylistic detours of the spoken-word “The Approaching Curve” and the moody, stripped-down “Roadside” earn passing grades (even though the latter sounds a bit too much like Staind’s “Outside” for comfort). Sure, the songs don’t sound all that different from one another, but isn’t that what makes punk bands great-consistency?