A year after the release of their eighth album, Chicago punk quartet Rise Against headed down a fresh path for their compilation of reimagined tunes, The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1. Transforming ten previously released selections from five past albums -- ranging from 2001 debut The Unraveling to Appeal to Reason and Wolves from the 2010s -- Rise Against transfer the energy of their typical forceful attacks, finding power in restraint and intimacy. Here, vocalist Tim McIlrath's raspy vocals and impassioned lyrics are brought to the fore, while emotions swell with the wave of orchestral accompaniment provided by guest musicians Jeb Bows and Adrienne Short (violins), Phil Norman (cello), John Grigsby (upright bass), and Andrew Berlin and Chris Beeble (arrangement and piano). Less driving than the original, "House on Fire" becomes pastoral and pleasant, while "Miracle" morphs from a call to arms into a yearning plea. The self-acceptance anthem "Far from Perfect" experiences a similar rebirth, becoming an emotional self-help hymn. The most stripped-down interpretations are provided by "Faint Resemblance," a simple acoustic reworking, and "Voices Off Camera," simplified to just vocals and piano. Meanwhile, the biggest transformation is "Like the Angel," an early-era punk blast from 2003's Revolutions Per Minute that matures with deep bass, contemplative acoustic guitar, and aching strings. While certainly not typical of the Rise Against catalog, The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1 is a refreshing take on the band's powerful history, stirring the heart with simplicity and soul rather than outright punk aggression.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung