The Sufferer & the Witness finds Rise Against continuing on the path begun on 2004's well-received Siren Song of the Counter Culture. Their melodic hardcore may still sound more mainstream accessible, but this can hardly be looked at as a bad thing. After all, the band's sincerity and passion emerge very much intact -- their socially conscious approach no less pressing -- and new and old fans alike should take to Sufferer with open arms. With producers Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore manning the controls this time around, the band's inner grit is aptly drawn out amid all the pit-ready choruses and fist-in-the-air, stirring lyrics. As such, Rise Against continue to muscularly confront political and personal grievances to the tune of swirling guitars, assertive rhythms, and Tim McIlrath's sandpapered vocals. However, "Chamber the Cartridge" doesn't quite open the record with the same acidic bite as past lead tracks, as the chorus is lacking something in its delivery to really hit a nerve. This later happens again in songs like "Under the Knife" and the ferocious-yet-still-slightly-missing "Worth Dying For," but moments like these are, in truth, more the exception than the rule. "Injection" and "Ready to Fall" bring things back into invigorating Rise Against territory early on, while "Bricks" stands out as a vicious blast of old-school hardcore energy and power. This record is basically one shout-along, mosh-worthy song after another, though the guys do throw in some interesting moments outside of continual rushes of pure adrenaline. The excellent "Prayer of the Refugee" jarringly alternates between plaintive guitars and weary singing to an empowered chorus and exploding rhythm section to affectingly address the plight of displaced families of war; the frustrated disconnect distressing a troubled relationship is represented surprisingly well in "The Approaching Curve," with its driving use of spoken word and complementary female backing vocals. Essentially, The Sufferer & the Witness showcases Rise Against maturing within the realms of major-label hardcore revivalism, while still remaining relevant and exciting. So even with the occasional letdown, there's a lot to be said for Rise Against pulling everything off with as much substance and strength as they do the whole way through.
AllMusic Review by Corey Apar