The video for "Ready to Fall," the lead single from Rise Against's latest salvo, is like a punk-rock version of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, except with fewer shots of melting icebergs and a lot more images of doomed wildlife: dead deer, dead dolphins, baby chicks riding a conveyor belt to calamity. At the clip's conclusion, vocalist Tim McIlrath faces the camera and intones: "We've got one planet one chance." Hard to argue with that sentiment. Still, The Sufferer & the Witness would be more noteworthy if these Chicagoans had ventured into unfamiliar areas. Soundwise, the disc, which was recorded at Fort Collins' Blasting Room under the supervision of Descendents/All skin-pounder Bill Stevenson, kicks like a bull wearing a sandpaper thong. But with only a few exceptions, the melodies and arrangements stubbornly conform to the same punk template that's been in use for decades. Likewise, couplets such as "We look for reason/But come up empty-handed," from "Brick," seldom transcend sloganeering. When it comes to this CD, predictability is the real inconvenient truth.
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