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Appeal to Reason

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Appeal to Reason
The cover art for Appeal to Reason, which features various drawings including one of a man in a gasmask and another of a child having their umbilical cord cut. These drawings are atop a yellow background. The words "Rise Against" and "APPEAL TO REASON" are in the top left corner.
Studio album by Rise Against
Released October 7, 2008
Recorded January–June 2008
Studio The Blasting Room, Fort Collins, Colorado
Length 48:23
Rise Against chronology
The Sufferer & the Witness
Appeal to Reason
Singles from Appeal to Reason
  1. "Re-Education (Through Labor)"
    Released: August 25, 2008
  2. "Audience of One"
    Released: January 15, 2009
  3. "Savior"
    Released: June 3, 2009

Appeal to Reason is the fifth studio album by American punk rock band Rise Against. After touring in support of their previous album, The Sufferer & the Witness, Rise Against began recording Appeal to Reason in January 2008 at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado. Recording and production were finished in June, and the album was released in North America on October 7, 2008. The album is the band's first release with guitarist Zach Blair. The album has been certified Gold by the RIAA and platinum by the CRIA.

Appeal to Reason was Rise Against's highest charting album until the release of Endgame, debuting at number three on the Billboard 200 chart and selling 64,700 copies in its first week of release. It received generally favorable reviews from critics. The album produced three singles: "Re-Education (Through Labor)", "Audience of One", and "Savior".

Although commercially successful, Rise Against was greatly criticized by many long-term fans for producing an album they considered a dramatic departure compared to Rise Against's previous fast-paced works. Despite this, the album has sold over 600,000 copies in the USA, with one of the songs going Platinum, and another going Gold; it is their most successful album to date.

Writing and recording[edit]

In July 2006, Rise Against released their fourth studio album The Sufferer & the Witness, which became their first album to chart within the top ten on the Billboard 200.[1] To promote the album, Rise Against embarked on an extensive tour that concluded at the Jingle Bell Rock in December 2007.[2][3] The next month the band reconvened to begin writing and demoing songs for their next album Appeal to Reason.[4]

When asked in May what the status of the album was, frontman Tim McIlrath told the Los Angeles modern rock radio station, KROQ, that the band was in the middle of the recording process. He also stated that the album would be recorded at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado and produced by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, who had produced The Sufferer & the Witness.[5][6] Also in May 2008, Rise Against posted a blog on their website, stating that they were back in the studio working on the album. It explained that they had "spent many weeks in Chicago throughout the end of winter writing new songs" in their "rehearsal space".[7][8] Asked later about the writing and recording process, McIlrath said, "We kind of blocked a month off over the winter and said, 'Let's all get together, get the rehearsal space, and start putting some ideas together,' which is what we did. And then, we also blocked off a week or two at the Blasting Room after we arrived in Fort Collins to just kind of jam stuff out, get some new ideas going."[9]

Musical style and themes[edit]

For Rise Against, Appeal to Reason marked a musical shift from the gritty punk rock that had previously defined their career, to a more accessible and radio-friendly sound, with greater emphasis on production value.[10][11] The New York Times felt the album was more tune-oriented than the band's previous works,[12] while John Hanson of Sputnikmusic said that the album is "'appealing' to a larger audience than old fans will be comfortable with".[13] According to Bill Stewart of PopMatters, "Appeal to Reason is a Rise Against album. If you possess more than a passing familiarity with the band, I wouldn't even bother scrolling through the rest of this review, and I'd certainly avoid checking out the rating at the end of it—because that first sentence, for better or worse, says everything that needs to be said about this album."[14] Critics have characterized the album's music as melodic hardcore and punk rock, with influences of pop punk.[13][14]

The majority of the album's lyrics discuss political issues in the United States. Jeff Miers of The Buffalo News calls the album "a response to the oppressive vacuousness of the Bush years".[15] Dealing with specific tracks on the album, AllMusic states that Rise Against "rages against the moral decay rotting the core of the U.S. on the opening 'Collapse (Post-Amerika),' just as they strike out against the slow dumbing down of America on 'Re-Education (Through Labor)'".[11] In addition to political topics, more personal issues constitute a large portion of the lyrical content. "Savior" is about forgiveness and broken relationships,[13] while "The Dirt Whispered" is about the need to sacrifice for what a person loves.[16] Bassist Joe Principe said, "The political side of this band is just that -- it's a side. There are political lyrics. There are social awareness and there are lyrics about the environment. I think if people take the time to read the lyrics, they'll know we're not strictly force feeding you our politics."[17]

The album includes one acoustic song, "Hero of War", which is about an Iraq War Veteran looking back on his war experiences. It is described by Rolling Stone as an "ambivalent aggro-folk track".[18] McIlrath said of the song, "I wanted to take the perspective of 'What is the war going to be looked back on as?'"[19] In another interview McIlrath stated, "It was a way to document what's going on, like other artists documented for their generation and for generations to come."[20] He went on to say, "There are not many songs...talking about what's going on during eight years of occupation in Iraq. That, combined with meeting active soldiers and retired soldiers at our shows and hearing those stories about what is going on on the ground amid all the bullshit, showed me the differences from what is really happening to what is happening in the news media. I just thought that this needed to go into a song."[20]

Promotion and release[edit]

Appeal to Reason was released on October 7, 2008.[11] In the United States, the album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200, making it Rise Against's highest charting album at the time. The album sold 64,000 copies in its first week of release, and by December 2010, it had sold 482,000 copies.[21][22] It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in March 2011, denoting shipments of 500,000 copies in the United States.[23] When asked about the commercial success of Appeal to Reason, drummer Brandon Barnes said "It was surprising to us. We are very proud of the CD and happy with how it turned out, but going to No. 3 was big for us."[24]

Appeal to Reason was also a commercial success internationally. In Canada, the album reached number one on the Canadian Albums Chart, Rise Against's first album to do so.[25] It was certified platinum by Music Canada, denoting shipments of 100,000 copies.[26] The album peaked at number seven on the ARIA Top 100 Albums Chart in Australia,[27] and number twenty-one on the Top 100 Albums chart in Germany.[28] It was certified gold in both Australia and Germany, denoting shipments of 35,000 and 100,000 copies respectively.[29][30] The album peaked in several other countries, including number thirty-four in Austria,[31] number fifty-five in Belgium,[32] number thirty-four in New Zealand,[33] number fifty-one in Sweden,[34] number forty-four in Switzerland,[35] and number sixty-eight in the United Kingdom.[36]

Three songs from Appeal to Reason were released as singles: "Re-Education (Through Labor)", "Audience of One", and "Savior".[37][38][39] All three singles charted on the Modern Rock Tracks chart, peaking at number three, four, and three respectively.[40] "Savior" in particular, held the record for the most consecutive weeks spent on both the Hot Rock Songs and Modern Rock Tracks charts, with sixty-three and sixty-five weeks respectively.[41][a]

Guitarist Zach Blair and vocalist Tim McIlrath (right) playing on the Appeal to Reason tour on October 11, 2008.

Accompanying music videos were shot for all three songs.[43] The video for "Re-Education (Through Labor)" features the Chicago sect of the Moped Army planting and detonating bombs throughout the city. The video garnered controversy, as some viewers saw this as an act of condoning terrorism.[43] In the "Audience of One" video, the members of Rise Against perform on a miniaturized version of the White House lawn, while a child plays with the small figurines. The video deals with various themes, including gay marriage and militarization.[43] The video for "Savior" features actors in animal costumes engaging in a mosh pit.[43] Rise Against also produced a video for "Hero of War" despite it not being a single. The video follows the song's lyric thread, and features a soldier looking back on his war experiences.[43]

began a U.S. tour with Thrice, Alkaline Trio, and The Gaslight Anthem to promote the album on October 2, 2008, in Cleveland, Ohio.[44] The band co-headlined a 2009 tour with Rancid throughout the summer months.[45][46] That was followed by a short tour of the UK in November, which was supported by the bands Thursday and Poison the Well.[47]

Critical reception[edit]

Appeal to Reason received generally favorable reviews from music critics. It received a score of 65 out of 100 on Metacritic's average of ten professional reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[48] In his review, Chris Fallon of AbsolutePunk said, "Appeal to Reason is essentially focused on one big thing: intelligence. There is no fluff here -- the band has put together a fast, smart and generally focused piece of work here."[49] Rolling Stone magazine tells of the band's further emergence into the mainstream with Appeal to Reason, "Rise Against may be nervous about leaving the underground behind, but with sharp songs like these, they're ready for the rest of the world."[18]

Appeal to Reason also had less positive reception, with most negative reviews criticizing the band's further movement into the mainstream. Entertainment Weekly commented: "Songs like "Re-Education (Through Labor)" and "Entertainment," which seeks to redress the evils of media manipulation upon the land, are peppy but pretty empty, power-chord downers with little bark or bite."[50] PopMatters said "McIlrath rarely reaches beyond his one-note vocal performance despite apparent and commendable earnestness...the other members of the band don't fare much better: new lead guitarist Zach Blair, in particular, might have his three-chord attack down to a science, but the formula wears thin by the time the album gets through its first 30 minutes—and after that, there are still 18 to go."[14] While reviewing Rise Against's next album, Endgame (2011), Alternative Press critic Scott Heisel wrote "Sure, it may have sold half a million copies, but Rise Against's Appeal To Reason was, in our humble opinion, a dud. The album was a slow, lumbering affair that seemingly betrayed the band’s natural melodic-hardcore predilections for a stronger chance at appealing to the Rock on the Range crowd."[51]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Tim McIlrath; all music composed by Tim McIlrath, Joe Principe, Brandon Barnes and Zach Blair.

No. Title Length
1. "Collapse (Post-Amerika)" 3:19
2. "Long Forgotten Sons" 4:01
3. "Re-Education (Through Labor)" 3:42
4. "The Dirt Whispered" 3:09
5. "Kotov Syndrome" 3:05
6. "From Heads Unworthy" 3:42
7. "The Strength to Go On" 3:27
8. "Audience of One" 4:05
9. "Entertainment" 3:34
10. "Hero of War" 4:13
11. "Savior" 4:02
12. "Hairline Fracture" 4:02
13. "Whereabouts Unknown" 4:02
Total length: 48:23


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Appeal to Reason.[55]

Charts and certifications[edit]



  1. ^ "Sail" by Awolnation has since broken the longevity record on the Hot Rock Songs chart, where it spent ninety-six weeks.[42]


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