The Unraveling (Rise Against album)

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The Unraveling
Studio album by Rise Against
Released April 24, 2001
Recorded December 2000 at Sonic Iguana Studios, Lafayette, Indiana
Genre Melodic hardcore, hardcore punk, punk rock
Length 36:40
Label Fat Wreck Chords
FAT 695-2
Producer Mass Giorgini
Rise Against chronology
Transistor Revolt
(2000)
The Unraveling
(2001)
Revolutions per Minute
(2003)

The Unraveling is the debut full-length album by American punk rock band Rise Against, released on April 24, 2001, and distributed through Fat Wreck Chords.[1] Mass Giorgini produced the album at Sonic Iguana Studios in Lafayette, Indiana, in December 2000.[2] It is the only Rise Against studio album on which lead vocalist Tim McIlrath does not play guitar. The album was remastered and re-released in 2005.[1]

Although The Unraveling did not rank on any of the Billboard 200 charts, it led to Rise Against's re-signing with Fat Wreck Chords to record their second album, Revolutions per Minute. It received generally favorable reviews from critics. The album did not produce any singles, but several tracks were included in various media and compilations.

Background[edit]

Rise Against existed for over a year as local Chicago band "Transistor Revolt" before recording their debut. Prior to The Unraveling, the band independently released and distributed an eponymous demo album, Transistor Revolt, before changing their name.[3] Shortly after the release, drummer Tony Tintari left the band, and Rise Against recruited Brandon Barnes from the defunct Denver punk band Pinhead Circus.[4][5]

Their demo garnered the attention of punk label Fat Wreck Chords, which signed the band. The band recorded The Unraveling in December 2000 using material from the Transistor Revolt demo, from which three songs were taken: "Reception Fades", "The Art of Losing", and "Two" (which was re-titled as "401 Kill"). The fourth song, "Join the Ranks", was not included, although it was added as a bonus track to the 2005 Reissue.[2] The album art was designed by Chicago tattoo artist Tim Biedron, a friend of lead vocalist Tim McIlrath.[6] Album photography within the liner was taken by Nabil Elderkin, who has worked with artists and athletes such as Kanye West and Kelly Slater.[7]

Style and composition[edit]

"401 Kill" showcases the unusual slow melodic hardcore influence

"Join the Ranks", a bonus track on the 2005 reissue that was taken from material on the Transistor Revolt demo, showcases the hardcore punk influence.

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All lyrics were written by Tim McIlrath, with all music in collaboration with the entire band.[2] The album is heavily influenced by hardcore acts such as Black Flag[8][9] and 88 Fingers Louie, of which guitarist Mr. Precision and bassist Joe Principe were previous members.[10][11] The Unraveling combined fast, customary hardcore punk riffs with slower melodic sounds, an unusual blend for contemporary punk.[8][12] McIlrath told Australian magazine The Age in 2006 "We weren't really sure what kind of band we even were."[13] The 88 Fingers Louie influence in song structure is seen in the heavy and elaborate basslines of Joe Principe.[14] In a 2006 interview with Punknews.org, Principe stated

We really made sure that the drums were accenting vocal[s] and guitar parts were played just write [sic], at least to where we thought were just right - not overplaying or underplaying. I guess as we grow as a band we're paying more attention... and I think with my bass playing too... I think I kind of tended to overplay in 88 Fingers Louie and I've since learned to only play when needed, if that makes sense.[15]

In theme, The Unraveling ranges from "friendships and relationships [to] religion and memories",[12] which became lyrical staples of all successive albums. In The Age interview, McIlrath stated "Everything we've done has always mirrored the climate around us."[13] "Great Awakening" features an aggressive sound and abrasive lyrics, showing the influence of 80s hardcore punk.[8] "Everchanging" was considered by Bill Adams of Ground Control magazine as the primary example of the "comparatively down-tempo and introspective moments" within the album.[8] Rise Against experimented with film quotes in the composition of The Unraveling, which would be repeated in the albums Revolutions Per Minute and Endgame. "Alive and Well", the first track, includes dialogue from the 1996 motion picture The Cable Guy. At the beginning, Jack Black can be heard saying, "Are you ready to rock?".[16] and features McIlrath switching heavily between "throaty screams" and "deceptive melodies."[17] The first 15 seconds of "Reception Fades" are taken from 1997's Henry Fool.[18]

Release and reception[edit]

Commercial[edit]

Fat Wreck Chords released The Unraveling on 21 April 2001, in the United States on LP and CD formats. The original 2001 CD pressing is currently out of print.[1] The album and the 2005 reissue did not rank on any major music charts. The Unraveling garnered no singles; however, an acoustic version of "Everchanging" was featured on the Warped Tour 2006 Tour Compilation and the European track listing of the This Is Noise EP.[19][20] Also, two songs, "The Art of Losing" and "My Life Inside Your Heart", were used for the unreleased video game Propeller Arena for the Sega Dreamcast.[21]

On 14 August 2001, shortly after the release of The Unraveling, lead vocalist Tim McIlrath posted on the Rise Against web site that Mr. Precision had left the band due to creative differences and personal differences.[22][23] Phillip Hill from The Teen Idols stood in as lead guitarist for The Unraveling tour,[23] and later the band hired Kevin White as lead guitarist.[24] A few months later, White left the band, and Todd Mohney was recruited as the new lead guitarist.[25] The band participated in the 2001 "Fuck the World Tour", which began eight days after Mr. Precision's departure, during which the band heavily promoted their debut. On the tour, the band met Chris Chasse, who was then a member of Reach the Sky as lead guitarist and later joined Rise Against in 2004 after the departure of Mohney.[26] Rise Against signed to Fat Wreck Chords again in 2003 to record their second album, Revolutions Per Minute.

Critical[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[12]
Drowned in Sound 8/10[27]
Ground Control magazine positive[8]
Punknews.org 4.5/5 stars[28]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5[17]

The Unraveling received generally favorable reviews. Critics focused on its difference from most Fat Wreck Chords bands and its similarities to earlier hardcore punk outfits. Kurt Morris from AllMusic gave the album three out of five stars, describing it as "a bit of a change for Fat Wreck Chords", highlighting its direct, aggressive sound and serious lyrics. Morris listed "Alive and Well", "401 Kill", and "Everchanging" as the top three tracks, with the latter standing out for its "mature and thoughtful" lyrics.[12] The Punknews.org review gave The Unraveling four and a half out of five stars, saying that "Rise Against is one of the most promising hardcore bands to form in a while and I'm not talking about Chicago only, I'm talking about the whole country" and the album could be "a contender for debut of the year."[28] Sputnikmusic's Davey Boy commented on the use of film takes in the album, with the opening to "Alive and Well" setting "a frenetic pace ... that displays all of the band’s musical trademarks."[17] The Punkbands.com retrospective review praised McIlrath's diversity in voice and lyrics, stating that "there is an urgency to the lyrics, a desperation in the intonation that is found plenty on Revolutions Per Minute and sometimes on Siren Song of the Counter Culture, but not in every word the way it is on The Unraveling".[29] The album's hardcore punk texture was highly commended. Ground Control stated that "The Unraveling lives up to its name as any sort of punk rock pleasantry is ripped out of the way and all that remains is urgent, hungry, angry adrenaline."[8]

Critics pointed out the odd track dynamics and felt the presence of weak filler. The Sputnikmusic review stated the album slowed down toward the center, and that "these tracks are arguably better in the moment, rather than being memorable"; the review of the 2005 reissue plainly stated "some songs feel and sound a bit out of place here and there."[17][30] Although some critics felt the low production value (compared to other releases by Rise Against) added to the rawness and power behind the album, it scored criticism from other sources, especially in retrospective reviews written after the release of the 2005 reissue.[29][30] The Punknews.org review of the 2005 reissue found the original version's "drums and low-end are too high, the vocals too buried, it's somewhat muddy overall, and it doesn't do a lot of favors to the music or the band."[29] Ground Control mentioned that the "instruments [are] cranked up so loud that they're starting to clip a bit."[8]

2005 reissue[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Altsounds 80%[14]
Punkbands.com 5/5 stars[31]
Punknews.org 4/5 stars[29]
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5[30]

On August 23, 2005, Fat Wreck Chords reissued The Unraveling on CD format and digital download to coincide with the band's fifth anniversary.[32][33] It was remixed and remastered by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore at The Blasting Room in Ft. Collins, Colorado, with two bonus songs ("Join the Ranks" and "Gethsemane"), updated photography, and additional album liner information.[2] "Join the Ranks" was taken from material written for the Transistor Revolt demo and featured on the Fat Wreck Chords compilation Live Fat, Die Young, while "Gethsemane" was originally featured on the compilation OIL: Chicago Punk Refined released in 2003.[34][35] Todd Mohney plays lead guitar on Track 18 "Gethsemane" of the 2005 reissue, as the track was recorded after Mr. Precision's departure from the band.[2]

The re-issue was met with widespread critical acclaim. Critics of the initial pressing praised the updated sound quality, with Sputnikmusic's Damrod stating "Some songs [from the original] sounded hollow, not as punchy as the newer ones did. This is something the band noticed as well, and decided to give this one an overhaul."[30] Applebottom from Altsounds stated "this is such an amazing step up in quality," and that "... this is a must have for any fan of Rise Against. If you're new to the music of this band, I'd recommend picking up the remastered version of The Unraveling as it gives better song clarity and sound quality - not to mention the two bonus tracks."[14] The Punkbands.com review stated that fans of grittier hardcore may not find the remastering as appealing, but "fans of [the later albums] may like this version better."[31] Punknews.org's retrospective review on both versions gave the original version three stars and the reissue four, saying "even without the bonus tracks, though, this is the rare reissue that is worth rebuying and is absolutely the version you want to pick up if you haven't got it yet. Bill Stevenson (Blasting Room producer, drummer for the Descendents, ALL, Black Flag, and Only Crime) did an excellent job remixing and remastering this release. All the instruments are in the right place in the mix and the overall sound is now crisp and punchy."[29]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Tim McIlrath, all music composed by Tim McIlrath, Joe Principe, Brandon Barnes and Mr. Precision.

No. Title Length
1. "Alive and Well"   2:06
2. "My Life Inside Your Heart"   3:02
3. "Great Awakening"   1:35
4. "Six Ways 'Til Sunday"   2:36
5. "401 Kill"   3:19
6. "The Art of Losing"   1:50
7. "Remains of Summer Memories"   1:17
8. "The Unraveling"   3:12
9. "Reception Fades"   2:10
10. "Stained Glass and Marble"   1:36
11. "Everchanging"   3:47
12. "Sometimes Selling Out Is Giving Up"   1:09
13. "3 Day Weekend"   1:03
14. "1000 Good Intentions"   3:07
15. "Weight of Time"   2:00
16. "Faint Resemblance"   2:51
Total length:
36:40
Bonus tracks on the 2005 reissue
No. Title Length
17. "Join the Ranks"   1:26
18. "Gethsemane"   2:30
Total length:
40:36

Personnel[edit]

All album credits are taken from the liner notes of The Unraveling.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Rise Against :: The Unraveling - Records: Fat Wreck Chords". Fat Wreck Chords. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f The Unraveling: 2005 Reissue liner notes, back cover
  3. ^ ""Generation Lost" - Rise Against fan site". Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  4. ^ "Brandon Barnes Bio" Sabian.com. Retrieved 25 November 2009.
  5. ^ "Rise Against Gets Fat" Punknews.org. 11 September 2000. Retrieved 14 December 2010.
  6. ^ "Rise Against: links". Rise Against. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  7. ^ "Nabil Elderkin Photography and Film". Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Ground Control - Rise Against". Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  9. ^ "Interviews: Tim McIlrath (Rise Against)". Punknews.org. 8 December 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  10. ^ "88 Fingers Louie and Rise Against are like Batman". Truepunk. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  11. ^ "Allmusic: Rise Against biography". Johnny Loftus. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  12. ^ a b c d Morris, Kurt. "The Unraveling - Rise Against". AllMusic. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Murfett, Andrew (1 December 2006). "Politically motivated". Melbourne: The Age. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c "Rise Against - The Unraveling (re-reissue)". altsounds. 18 September 2005. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "Interviews: Joe Principe (Rise Against)". Punknews.org. 5 December 2006. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  16. ^ "Interviews: Tim McIlrath (Rise Against)". Punknews.org. 6 December 2006. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c d Davey Boy (26 March 2009). "Rise Against - The Unraveling (staff review)". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  18. ^ "F.A.Q. by RiseAgainst". MCA Records. 28 July 2004. Retrieved 22 November 2008. 
  19. ^ "Warped Tour 2006 Tour Compilation Track Listing". Artist Direct. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  20. ^ "Rise Against Plans European Release of 'This is Noise" EP With More Content". Ultimate-Guitar.com. 4 April 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  21. ^ "Propeller Arena Fan Site > music". Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  22. ^ "Rise Against Interview (2003)". Punknews.org. 8 February 2003. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  23. ^ a b "Rise Against Tour/Concert Update". Punknews.org. 14 August 2001. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  24. ^ "Rise Against gets new guitarist". Punknews.org. 29 September 2001. Retrieved 14 December 2010. 
  25. ^ "Rise Against biography". Punknews.org. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  26. ^ "Reach the Sky w/ Rise Against: Fuck the World Tour". Punknews.org. 11 August 2001. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  27. ^ Benwell, James (28 April 2001). "Rise Against - The Unraveling". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved 7 December 2012. 
  28. ^ a b "Rise Against - The Unraveling". Punknews.org. 5 May 2001. Retrieved 14 November 2010. 
  29. ^ a b c d e "Rise Against - The Unraveling (Reissue) Review". Punknews.org. 2 September 2005. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  30. ^ a b c d "Rise Against: The Unraveling (Re-Issue)". Sputnikmusic. 25 May 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  31. ^ a b "The Unraveling (Remastered) by Rise Against". punkbands.com. 5 September 2005. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  32. ^ "Rise Against :: The Unraveling (Reissue) - Records: Fat Wreck Chords". Fat Wreck Chords. Retrieved 13 November 2010. 
  33. ^ "It's five years later now. Five fucking years. ... Recording industry has drastically improved and we simply wanted to dust this record off and bring it up to speed with the rest of your record collection." - Tim McIlrath, The Unraveling: 2005 Reissue liner notes, p. 3.
  34. ^ "Oil (Thick Compilation) - Various Artists". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 December 2010. 
  35. ^ "Fat Music, Vol. 5: Live Fat Die Young - Various Artists". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 December 2010.