I wish to discuss two extremely talented bands: Rise Against and Linkin Park.
Both bands are undeniably very talented and have original sounds. Rise Against has been classified as a punk band while Linkin Park (debatably) is labeled as an alternative, rock, nu-metal and rap band.
It’s pretty rare for a band to sing about social issues or express their political beliefs in music nowadays. Typically, one will only find this type of preaching in Christian music and one normally needs to search to find it. Rise Against and Linkin Park are exceptions to this phenomenon.
So what does Rise Against stand for?
The band is made up of straight-edge vegans. They are PETA members who have even dedicated a hit song’s music video (“Ready to Fall”) to showing “animal cruelty” in livestock facilities. While I personally will never understand vegans, I respect their rights to act as they see fit when it comes to diets.
Rise Against most recently has sung out for gay kids being bullied. It’s easy to relate to an anti-bullying message, but I find it strange to focus solely on gay kids as the vast majority of bullying victims aren’t gay.
The one major issue I have with Rise Against is their anti-military stance. Let me clarify, Rise Against isn’t just anti-war, but anti-military. Their song “Hero of War” attacks US soldiers to the point one could label it as slander. The song highlights the few rare horrors that US soldiers impact on innocent civilians. It describes US soldiers shooting unarmed women, urinating on POW’s, and taking men away from their “crying” family and friends. This is a direct affront and insult to all soldiers who have served overseas. The dangerous stereotypes displayed in this song are the same stereotypes that create resentment of our service people. At least the music video for the song shows soldiers suffering from post-traumatic-stress disorder: a very real and serious issue for many veterans. How do Rise Against fans feel about the video? Check out the Youtube comments: many are foul, hate-filled and un-American.
On the other end of the spectrum, we find Linkin Park. Linkin Park has been anti-drugs from their beginning. Rather than announce themselves as straight-edge and preach at concerts, Linkin Park talks about the horrors of drugs, addiction and withdrawal (as the videos for “Papercut” and “Crawling” show). Linkin Park also touches on bullying with their chart-topping song “Numb” in which a girl is nearly pushed to suicide but finds resolve in a church by the end of the video. Linkin Park was originally all about teen-angst and one can easily hear young frustrations in dealing with authority in their early and angry music. Linkin Park touches on self-mutilation with “Krwlng” and “Breaking the Habit”. While Linkin Park may sound only angry and depressing, their lyrics are about overcoming trials and warning others about the horrors bad decisions can have on lives.
Per the military and politics, Linkin Park is on the complete opposite spectrum of Rise Against. While they are “anti-war” as “Hands Held High” shows, they take a holistic and human approach to war. By showing how an American soldier might feel in the War on Terror and a young Iraqi child’s perspective, they keep the song respectful, mournful and even bring in a touch of prayer.
Linkin Park’s second to last album, “A Thousand Suns”, is an experimental piece of art that talks of the horrors of nuclear war and puts Linkin Park’s political views in bold screaming font. “Wretches and Kings” is a blatant middle-finger to big government and calls young Americans to do everything they can to stop the growth of our government. It even has a call to arms at the end of the song. “Blackout” features a fierce vocal scream session aimed at President Obama for “betraying trust” and calls him out for blaming everything on Bush.
Most recently, Linkin Park’s hit song “Castle of Glass” reverently shows how military families cope with loss. The song has been featured for the new videogame “Medal of Honor Warfighter” (a more tactical and realistic version of Call of Duty Modern Warfare).
There is a very clear and fine line between being “anti-war” and “anti-military.” The next time you pick up a rock album, pay attention to the lyrics. For all you know, you could be supporting a message that you completely resent. The choice has been clear to me: Rise Against will never get a cent of my money.
Make it Stop
Ready to Fall
Hero of War
Breaking the Habit
Hands Held High
Castle of Glass