Endgame (Rise Against album)

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The cover art for Endgame. The cover features a picture of a boy who's back is turned to the camera. The boy is draped in an American flag, and is standing in a wheat field. The words "RISE AGAINST ENDGAME" are displayed in the top of the image.
Studio album by Rise Against
Released March 15, 2011 (2011-03-15)
Recorded September 2010 – January 2011
Studio The Blasting Room, Fort Collins, Colorado
Length 46:05
Rise Against chronology
Appeal to Reason
Long Forgotten Songs: B-Sides & Covers 2000–2013
Singles from Endgame
  1. "Help Is on the Way"
    Released: January 25, 2011
  2. "Make It Stop (September's Children)"
    Released: May 30, 2011
  3. "Satellite"
    Released: November 1, 2011

Endgame is the sixth studio album by American rock band Rise Against, released on March 15, 2011 through DGC Records and Interscope Records. Rise Against began work on the album in September 2010, after completing touring in support of its previous album, Appeal to Reason, in mid-2010. The first single from the album, "Help Is on the Way" debuted on KROQ and KKDO on January 17, 2011, and was released on the band's MySpace and digital media outlets on January 25, 2011. The album entered the Billboard 200 at number two, the band's highest position to date. The album has been certified platinum by the MC, gold by the BVMI and gold by the ARIA.


In 2008, Rise Against released their fifth studio album, Appeal to Reason. It was their highest charting album on the Billboard 200, where it peaked at number three.[1] Despite sales of nearly 500,000 copies, critics were divided in their opinions of the album.[2] To promote the album, Rise Against embarked on the Appeal To Reason Tour, which concluded in mid-2010 with performances at several European festivals.[3][4] That September, the band members reconvened at the Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado to record Endgame.[5]

Bassist Joe Principe noted that although the band members booked the Blasting Room six months in advance, they left for the studio later than expected. Once they arrived, the band members wrote and finalized song ideas Principe and lead vocalist Tim McIlrath had written while on tour. This writing process took place over three week period before recording. Principe said the members were underprepared once they entered the studio, and described the writing process as "a race-the-clock kind of thing".[5] Endgame was produced by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore, the duo that produced three of Rise Against's last four albums.[1]


Music and lyrics[edit]

Endgame is a melodic hardcore album, with songs that feature aggressive movements, catchy hooks, rapid drumming, and slick production by Stevenson and Livermore.[6][7][8][9] Consequence of Sound's Alex Young described the music as "the missing link between Propaghandi-esque brutality and the easily consumed energy of something along NOFX lines".[7] Endgame continues a trend by Rise Against toward a more accessible and radio-friendly sound, which began with Appeal to Reason. Gregory Heaney of AllMusic wrote the change in sound was more of a logical progression as opposed to selling out, a sentiment which was shared by Kiel Hauck of PopMatters.[10][8] Hauck further stated that while the music featured in Endgame is more aggressive than the music in Appeal to Reason, it still maintains the mainstream sound they had previously achieved.[8]

Social and political commentary constitute the majority of the lyrical content on Endgame.[11] The main theme of the album revolves around the end of humanity. When asked about the lyrics, McIlrath said: "Every day, there's news about our financial system or the environment collapsing or stories about nuclear proliferation".[1] Instead of writing cynical songs however, McIlrath took a more positive approach. "We're looking at Endgame from the perspective of, 'What if this is a good thing? What if this grotesque world we created doesn't deserve to go on? What if the place on the other [side] of this transition is [a] place we'd all rather be living in?'"[1]

Andrew David King of PopMatters expanded upon these statements, commenting how the album's lyrics tell of a frustrated generation, from creation to demise. He wrote how the lyrics "personify the anger beneath modern malaise, and document what happens when the inability to discern right from wrong collides with the desire to do so." He also wrote how Endgame is a partial re-interpretation of the Book of Job, with songs about theodicy and revolution.[12]


The first song on Endgame is "Architects", which has a fast tempo described by one critic as "a rapidly draining fuse running toward the explosion".[13] The song features the lines "Don't you remember when you were young / and you wanted to set the world on fire / somewhere deep down I know you do", which are similar to lines found the Against Me! song "I Was a Teenage Anarchist". Some critics felt Rise Against was calling out Against Me! for fake passion,[2][6] while other critics felt the lyrics were more focused on general apathy from the public.[11][14] The second song, "Help Is on the Way", is about the slow response time for aid to disaster stricken areas, with lyrics that allude to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[13] McIlrath maintains clean vocals throughout the majority of the song,[a] but temporarily switches to screaming vocals during the bridge.[9]

Critics wrote how "Make It Stop (September's Children)" best exemplified Rise Against's musical shift toward a more mainstream sound.[9][15] It begins with a delayed guitar and a chorus of children, and transitions into a more pop punk-driven melody.[9] The lyrics decry homophobia and bullying among LGBT youth, with a spoken word section that features the names of teenagers who committed suicide due to bullying.[2] According to McIlrath, "Disparity by Design" is about "about holding people accountable for their actions. It's a novel idea...to hold their feet to the fire".[16] John Gentile of Punknews also noted the themes of economic injustice in the lyrics.[14] The fifth song, "Satellite", was written as a way of expressing that Rise Against would continue to stand by their beliefs and not conform.[1] McIlrath took inspiration from the Dixie Chicks song "Not Ready to Make Nice", which in turn was based off a controversial comment lead vocalist Natalie Maines made about then-United States President George W. Bush.[1]

"Midnight Hands" is the longest song on the album, and features heavy metal-influenced guitar riffs.[2] John Fortunato of The Aquarian Weekly offered his interpretation of the lyrics, calling the song "a radical, working class, pilgrimage saluting hard-won freedom".[17] Bassist Joe Principe says the seventh song, "Survivor Guilt", serves as an extension of their 2008 song "Hero of War", and tells of the harsh realities a soldier experiences during war.[5] "Broken Mirrors" is another heavy metal influenced song, with lyrics revolving around the days before Judgement Day.[11][12] The ninth song, "Wait for Me", is one of the slower songs on the album, which McIlrath described as "more ballad-esque".[1] "A Gentleman's Coup" continues on the theme of Judgment day presented in "Broken Mirrors", with the topic of nuclear annihilation.[11][12]

"This Is Letting Go", is one of the more melody driven songs on the album, with a consistent flow.[11] The lyrics tell of both romantic discontent and letting go of a preconceived direction to pursue one's own desires. McIlrath wrote the song with a character in mind, who is following his parent's dreams, but eventually tells them "It's not mine, it's yours".[17] The final song, "Endgame", concludes the apocalyptic imagery saga from "Broken Mirrors" and "A Gentleman's Coup". In the song, Judgement Day came, and the remaining survivors wonder progress has been made toward restoring peace and order, or if humanity is doomed to extinction.[17][12]

Promotion and release[edit]

In a question and answer session with the Chicago Blackhawks, McIlrath stated that the album would be released in March 2011. On January 12, 2011, Interscope announced the release date of Endgame as March 15, 2011,[18] followed with an announcement the next day by FMQB that the first single from the album, "Help Is on the Way," would be officially released on January 25, 2011,[19] although it premiered on the radio station KKDO, as their featured song on a segment called "New Music Heaven" and also on KROQ, on January 17 at 5 p.m. PST.[20]

In order to promote the album, Rise Against played a show in London on March 16, 2011.[21] In addition, Rise Against played two South American shows in Brazil and Argentina in late February and a run of European shows in March.[22] After touring South America, and Europe, Rise Against were back in the United States in April (Bad Religion, who once toured with Rise Against in 2004, and Four Year Strong supported this tour).

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[10]
Alternative Press4/5 stars[2]
Consequence of SoundC+[7]
Entertainment WeeklyB[24]
PopMatters7/10 stars[8]
Rock Sound9/10[6]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[26]

Endgame received generally favorable reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 76 based on 16 reviews.[23] Thomas Nassiff says "Rather than returning to their old form, the band solidifies an evolved style with this record." Rock Sound's review called the album "bona fide awesomeness".[6] IGN gave it a 9 out of 10 and stated, "It is an album full of important messages, with none greater than our inability and unwillingness to see the signs of our impending doom over a blend of chunky, thrusting riffs and nimble, wiry guitar of purposive apocalyptic "Endgame". The melodic bliss hidden in the hammering riffs on powder keg "Satellite" and chugging "This Is Letting Go" is what makes this a tough album to resist for even those not accustomed to the staggering punk package it wraps it all up in."[28] Blare Magazine gave it a three-and-a-half out of five stars and stated, "Letting past busts fade into nothing, the Chicago punk rockers have rediscovered their edge. Ignore the five year gap and Endgame surfaces, issuing healthy doses of aggression and narrations tracing paramount concerns."[29]

Although many critics have praised the polished sound, some critics feel as if Rise Against have gotten too far away from their punk roots. Kenny Herzog of Spin was critical about the single "Architects" saying "as soon as frontman Tim McIlrath bridges the half-time breakdown of "Architects" by earnestly imploring, "Don't you remember when you were young / How you wanted to set the world on fire" (echoing Against Me!'s "I Was a Teenage Anarchist" almost word for word), the singer-guitarist just sounds like he's trying to win back an ex-girlfriend."[27] Crave Online gave it five out of ten and stated, "Chicago rockers Rise Against have bridged the three year gap between albums with Endgame, a safe, slick twelve-song offering that amounts to more of the same: verses heavy with sociopolitical condemnation in a build-up to bombastic, wailing choruses and a raging "fight for the fire of truth" message under an armageddon of beats and nu-punk riffage. [...] Rise Against isn't cramming their ethical philosophy (straight-edge, vegetarian, PETA supporting, etc.) down our throats, but the artistic cruise-control and bombastic gimmickry dilutes any grander underlying message or cause. [...] Where is that fire of pure artistic reflection now? We're sold wholesale on what passes for passion, we're herded to the designated purveyors of product with open arms and voices crying "we're with you" in unison, but there is no real cause here. There is, in its wake, a highly fertile ground of commercial youth angst."[30]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Endgame debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 85,000 copies in its first week.[31] Despite being Rise Against's best start album entry to date, Endgame fell to number 22 the following week, with 21,000 copies sold.[32] It also topped the Top Rock Albums and the Top Hard Rock Albums charts, becoming the band's first album to do so on either chart.[33][34] The album debuted atop the Canadian Hot 100 and became Rise Against's second consecutive number-one album in the country, following Appeal to Reason in 2008.[35] It was certified platinum by Music Canada, denoting shipments of more than 80,000 copies.[36] In Australia, it peaked at number two,[37] and was certified gold by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), denoting shipments of over 35,000 copies.[38] It's also the band's first album to enter the UK top 40 album chart, debuting at number twenty-seven.[39]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Tim McIlrath; all music composed by Rise Against.[40]

2."Help Is on the Way"3:57
3."Make It Stop (September's Children)"3:55
4."Disparity by Design"3:49
6."Midnight Hands"4:18
7."Survivor Guilt"4:00
8."Broken Mirrors"3:55
9."Wait for Me"3:40
10."A Gentlemen's Coup"3:46
11."This Is Letting Go"3:41
Total length:46:05


Credits adapted from the liner notes of Endgame.[40]



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[38] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[36] Platinum 80,000^
Germany (BVMI)[57] Platinum 200,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
Australia March 11, 2011 LP Universal Music Group [58]
Germany CD [59]
Poland [60]
United Kingdom March 14, 2011 Polydor [61]
Portugal Universal Music Group [62]
Canada March 15, 2011 [63]
France [64]
LP [65]
Japan CD [66]
United States [67]
LP [68]
Digital download [69]
Australia March 24, 2011 CD [42]



  1. ^ In rock music terminology, clean vocals are used in the context of aggressive music to differentiate singing from screaming or growling, which are called unclean vocals.


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