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Appeal to Reason

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For the newspaper, see Appeal to Reason (newspaper).
Appeal to Reason
Cover features various drawing including one of a man in a gasmask and another of a very young child.
Studio album by Rise Against
Released October 7, 2008 (2008-10-07)
Recorded January–June 2008 at the Blasting Room, Fort Collins, Colorado
Genre Punk rock[1]
Length 48:23
Label DGC, Interscope
Producer Bill Stevenson, Jason Livermore
Rise Against chronology
This Is Noise
Appeal to Reason
Another Station: Another Mile
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 that is 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 May 2007, it was reported that Rise Against was planning to return to the studio after touring in support of their previous album, The Sufferer & the Witness, to begin work on their next album.[2] The band headlined a North American tour supporting The Sufferer & the Witness throughout July and August 2007, instead of attending that year's Warped Tour.[2] When asked in July about the band's plans for a new album, guitarist Zach Blair told that Rise Against would "start writing and recording the record" after touring and would be "writing for a few months" before returning to the studio. He also predicted a summer 2008 release date for the album.[3] In an interview with bassist Joe Principe in August 2007, he stated recording would likely begin around early 2008, although he said "everything could change", but that was "the plan right now".[4] The band continued to tour throughout the rest of 2007, playing several shows in the Taste of Chaos tour and supporting its headliner, The Used.[5]

On January 7, 2008, Rise Against announced on their website that they had begun writing and demoing for their next album.[6] 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.[7][8] 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".[9][10] 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."[11]

In a June 2008 interview, Luisa Mateus of asked McIlrath about the new album. He stated that it was "mostly finished" but that a name and release date were still undetermined. The only hint given on the musical style of the album was Mateus' statement that the band said that they were "happy keeping their sound organic".[12] On July 14, 2008, it was reported on that the album would be titled Appeal to Reason. The name is taken from a leftist newspaper from 1897.[13]

Musical style and themes[edit]

Appeal to Reason is considered by critics to be one of Rise Against's most accessible and melodic albums, both musically and lyrically. Jon Pareles of The New York Times felt that the band's "righteousness grows more tuneful with every album".[14] John Hanson of Sputnikmusic said that the album is "‘appealing’ to a larger audience than old fans will be comfortable with".[15] In an October 2008 interview with Tony Pascarella of, bassist Joe Principe said, "Appeal to Reason sounds like a Rise Against album but there's still something new that we're offering. I think we've grown as songwriters and as a band, and it shows on the record."[11] 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."[16]

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".[17] McIlrath said of the song, "I wanted to take the perspective of 'What is the war going to be looked back on as?'"[18] 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."[19] 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."[19]

Much of the rest of the album deals with political issues in the United States as well. Jeff Miers of The Buffalo News calls the album "a response to the oppressive vacuousness of the Bush years".[20] 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)'".[21] McIlrath said in an interview with The Red Alert, "All of our songs are 'that' song that we won't dilute. They always have been. I've never written a song, until "Hero of War," with a specific goal in mind." When asked about how Appeal to Reason continues Rise Against's tradition of making politically charged music, he said: "The reason I started this band, and the reason I still do it, is that I still open a paper and say, "Holy Shit! Are you kidding me? Is this really happening? Are people voting for things like Proposition 8? Is this America? Are we still in Iraq and in a place that people think a white versus a black president is a big deal?" There is so much to address through music. There is plenty we need to learn from."[19] Nevertheless, the band has stated that their songs don't only focus on politics. In one interview, 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."[22]

In the liner notes of the album, it recommends the reading of A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn. It also recommends the documentaries Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, The Ground Truth, The Future of Food, An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore, and Sicko by Michael Moore.

Promotion and release[edit]

A man with a shaved head playing a guitar with an intense expression. A harmonica player is in the background.
Guitarist Zach Blair and vocalist Tim McIlrath (right) playing on the Appeal to Reason tour on October 11, 2008.

Rise Against filmed the music video for Appeal to Reason's first single, "Re-Education (Through Labor)" with director Kevin Kerslake.[23] The single and its music video were released digitally on August 25.[24] In December 2008, it was reported that Rise Against would be shooting a music video for their second single, "Audience of One", with director Brett Simon.[25] The music video for "Audience of One" premiered on MySpace Music on January 15, 2009.[26] The music video was filmed in Los Angeles in December and features the band performing in a miniature world on the White House lawn.[27] The video for the song "Hero of War" was released on May 20, 2009, although the song itself was never released as an official single.[28] Radio stations were sent copies of the album's third single, "Savior", on June 3.[29]

Rise Against began a U.S. tour with Thrice, Alkaline Trio, and The Gaslight Anthem to promote the album on October 2, 2008, in Cleveland, Ohio.[30] The band co-headlined a 2009 tour with Rancid throughout the summer months.[31][32] That was followed by a short tour of the UK in November, which was supported by the bands Thursday and Poison the Well.[33]

Reception and sales[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 65/100[34]
Review scores
Source Rating 82%[35]
AllMusic 3/5 stars[21]
The A.V. Club B[36]
Entertainment Weekly C+[37]
Los Angeles Times 2/4 stars[38]
PopMatters 5/10[16]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[17]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[39]
Spin 5/10[40]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5 stars[15]

Appeal to Reason received generally favorable reviews from music critics. It attained a score of 65 out of 100 on Metacritic's average of ten professional reviews.[34] In his review giving the album an 82% rating, Chris Fallon of 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.[35] 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."[17] IGN gave the album an 8.2 out of 10 and said, "Rise Against has taken all of its protest attitude and all of its social leanings and has given America another truly great album. Appeal To Reason is both a wake-up call for the country and a song of hope for those who can see a clear path on the horizon. While the songs may not be as driven and hard as on albums past, they lack nothing in definition and power of the word. And when it comes down to it, Rise Against want you to know that there is power in the meaning."[41] In his Consumer Guide, however, Robert Christgau gave the album a "dud" rating ((dud)),[42] calling it "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought."[43]

Appeal to Reason is Rise Against's second highest charting album to date. It peaked at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200, selling 64,700 copies in its first week of release.[44] The singles released from Appeal to Reason also charted higher on the U.S. music charts than any of the band's previous releases. "Re-Education (Through Labor)" reached number 22 on Billboard's Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number three on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks (now Alternative Songs) chart,[45][46] making it Rise Against's highest charting single on a U.S. rock chart, until it was surpassed by "Savior". "Audience of One" reached number four on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart.[45] "Savior" peaked at number 3 on Billboard's Rock Songs chart and at number 3 on the Alternative Songs (formerly Hot Modern Rock Tracks) chart, making it the highest-charting single to date. "Savior" has also spent the longest of any Rise Against song on the U.S. Rock Charts, with over a year on both the Rock Songs and Alternative Songs charts.[47] All three appeared on the Canadian Hot 100 chart.[46][47][48] In December 2010, the album had sold 482,000 copies.[49]

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



Chart (2008) Peak
Australian Albums Chart[51] 7
Austria Albums Chart[51] 34
Belgium Albums Chart (Flanders)[52] 55
Canadian Albums Chart[53] 1
Germany Albums Chart[51] 21
New Zealand Albums Chart[51] 34
Swedish Albums Chart[51] 51
Swiss Albums Chart[51] 44
UK Albums Chart[51] 68
US Billboard 200[53] 3
US Billboard Top Rock Albums[53] 2
US Billboard Top Modern Rock/Alternative Albums[53] 2
US Billboard Digital Albums[53] 1


Country Certifications Sales
Australia Gold[54] 35,000
Canada[55] Platinum 100,000+
Germany[56] Gold 100,000+
United States[57] Gold 600,000+

Release history[edit]

Region Date Record Label
United Kingdom[58] October 2, 2008 Polydor
Australia[59] October 4, 2008 Universal
United States[35] October 7, 2008 Geffen, DGC/Interscope
Germany[61] October 10, 2008 Rough Trade


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External links[edit]