|Bad Religion - 'True North' (Epitaph Records)|
|Written by Dom Daley|
|Friday, 25 January 2013 03:00|
Album number sixteen for these punk rock elder statesmen and my initial thought is they haven't sold out, nor have they mellowed either. On this new platter they do exactly what So Cal punk bands of this calibre do and that's knock out politically charged punk in around about half an hour and Bad Religion pretty much do it better than anybody else in this genre. Without being groundbreakingly original you always know it's Bad Religion when one of their songs is playing, which is a great place to be for any band.
Right, first blast of the new album and having guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz behind the controls it seems the band are focused and on top of their game as title track and lead song 'True North' flies out of the traps with a sharp poke of punk rock that's sub two minutes and Bad Religion being, well, Bad Religion; hard playing with sharp lyrics and loads of melody (something they've pretty much stayed true to throughout their impressive career).
'Past Is Dead' begins with just a picked guitar and Greg Graffin's voice before breaking out into a full-on circle pit call to arms. Whilst Bad Religion sing about troubled times and rage against corporations and global governments they do manage to convey an air of hope and awakening and it's not raging for the sake of raging and simply waving the middle finger at the 'Man' - sure, there is plenty of waving the middle finger at the Man - 'Robin Hood In Reverse', 'Dept Of False Hope' - but the lyrics are thought provoking and they don't come over as pompous or hollow.
Greg Graffin turns in some great vocal performances throughout this record and there are no better examples of this as 'Endless Greed' and 'Fuck You', both quite different but both convincing and passionate.
I doubt Bad Religion will ever cross over into the mainstream but they will remain sizable outsiders if this record is anything to go by. 'Dharma And The Bomb' is as close to a hard rock song as they've done for some time with a bucket of catchy melody and some wicked guitar playing and, in fairness, is my pick of the songs on this here album, especially through my nice new headphones - it's a hell of a sound and bright and punchy but still sharp as a tack, which is pretty much the mondus operandi for 'True North' with very few dull moments and some very good songs.
I therefore hail 'True North' to be a winner and Bad Religion do it again going for quality over quantity and turning in 2013's finest album thus far. With the album spanning sixteen tunes keeping them short and very sharp is a great move - take 'Popular Consensus' quickly followed by the rapid 'My Head Is Full Of Ghosts', venomous and pummelling, more than enough to keep BR fans happy.
There may be bands who've produced stronger albums but not many who can claim to have been so consistent for so long and always seemingly doing it on their own terms. Bad Religion doing Bad Religion to the best of their ability, exactly what fans would want: Raucous - Relevant - Reliable. Grrreat stuff!