Saturday, 2 February 2013

Revew: Bad Religion - True North

Bad Religion
True North

01. True North
02. Past is Dead
03. Robin Hood in Reverse
04. Land of Endless Greed
05. Fuck You
06. Dharma and the Bomb
07. Hello Cruel World
08. Vanity
09. In Their Hearts is Right
10. Crisis Time
11. Dept. of False Hope
12. Nothing To Dismay
13. Popular Consensus
14. My Head is Full of Ghosts
15. The Island
16. Changing Tide

It sometimes seems difficult to classify Bad Religion. Are they the reigning kings of punk? Are they hold-overs from a time gone by? Are they pretty much the only relevant group of 40+ year olds in punk? Are they out of touch, or still leading the questioning/rebelling punk masses? Well classifications aside, one thing is indisputable....Bad Religion is better than 90% of punk bands. Now, that sounds like sweeping statement with many unstated implications, and it is supposed to be. When Suffer came out in 1988 Bad Religion it blew everyone away. When they followed it up with No Control and Against the Grain, they solidified themselves as anything but a one-trick pony. Even when they were getting slagged for moving to a major label they put out albums like Stranger than Fiction and The Gray Race, which as you guessed it, are better than 90% of the punk that was being put out at the time.

Having a long career is one thing, but hitting your 20th anniversary with an album like The Process of Belief is fucking unheard of. Not only was did that album quiet all naysayers, it marked the beginning of one of the, if not THE most impressive periods of Bad Religion's career. Now on the Lost Tribe podcast J. does a great job explaining the glory of the later years of Bad Religion, so listen to that, but it's worth noting that True North stands toe to toe with pretty much any of its predecessors in this latest Bad Religion period (ya, I know I'm talking about them like a modern art movement or something, but they deserve this type of reverence and respect).

True North continues Bad Religion's long-standing tradition of calling it like it is. There are songs decrying the catastrophic economic situation in America (“Robin Hood in Reverse”, “Land of Endless Greed”), and hold a cynical views of the world (“Hello Cruel World”, “Dept. Of False Hope”), but whatever the topic, the music and lyrics are driving and relentless. This is a band full of dads, business owners, and professors, and they still write balls to the fucking wall punk! And are GOOD at it!

Why do I seem so surprised? Because we live in a world where every band from the 80s, 90s, and even early 2000s are crawling out of their fucking graves for another $40-a-ticket grab at the brass ring, and it's downright depressing most of the time (Black Flag, I'm looking at you). Furthermore, these sad attempts at past glory are shown to be all the more hollow when a band like Bad Religion, who never had the sense to throw the towel in in the first place, delivers relevant, important music after over 30 years of being a band.

Goddammit, I love Bad Religion. I love screaming their lyrics at their concerts. I loved a childhood full of running to dictionaries as I read those lyrics. And I love a band that has had its ups and downs, but has always remained important, intelligent, and just plain fucking good.

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