The punk rock scene is a fairly transient one, with band’s coming and going at a rate that’s hard to keep a track of at the best of times. But if there was one true fixture over the ever changing landscape of the punk rock scene, it would have to be Los Angeles (California, U.S.) based outfit Bad Religion. Three years after the success of their last full-length release ‘The Dissent Of Man’, the six piece act (Comprising of vocalist Greg Graffin, guitarists Brett Gurewitz, Brian Baker and Greg Hetson, bassist Jay Bentley and drummer Brooks Wackerman) has returned with their latest effort ‘True North’. And as expected, the legendary band proves beyond any doubt that inspiration and the fire within the band still exists.
The opening title track ‘True North’ is a fast paced blast from the past, with the aggression stepped up a bit from their more recent efforts; bringing back memories of some of their older material. But while the aggression is a little closer to the surface, the slick and melodic backing vocals (Graffin, Gurewitz and Bently’s signature ‘Oozin’ Aahs’) keep the song in line with their more recent sound and direction.
Despite its slow introduction, ‘Past Is Dead’ is every bit as hard hitting as the opener in terms of its speed and aggression, while ‘Robin Hood In Reverse’ is classic Bad Religion, and could have easily slotted onto any of the band’s albums from the early ‘90’s.
In terms of highlights, the album is filled with its fair share of absolute gems. But tracks such as ‘Fuck You’ (The first single lifted from the album), the infectious punk/pop blast of ‘Crisis Time’, ‘Nothing To Dismay’, ‘Popular Consensus’ and ‘Land Of Endless Greed’ (Which boasts an awesome, albeit brief and simple, guitar solo) are by far the real picks of the faster paced material.
When it comes to some of the more mid-paced efforts, ‘Hello Cruel World’ is one of the rare moments on the album where the band deliberately put the brakes on, focussing their attention on a more deliberate sounding slower tempo and greater vocal melodies, while ‘Dept. Of False Hope’ is the only other track where Bad Religion lifts their foot off the accelerator.
The only other track worthy of singling out is ‘Dharma And The Bomb’, where Gurewitz takes on the role of lead vocalist. Although a little more rock orientated than anything else on the album, the track is obviously intended as nothing more than a short blast of fun, and on that level, it works a treat.
In terms of the punk rock scene, there are few bands that have remained as consistent throughout their career as Bad Religion. And as expected, ‘True North’, is another in a long line of enjoyable releases from the punk rock legends. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of Bad Religion, you’ll find plenty to enjoy on their latest album.
For more information on Bad Religion, check out – http://www.badreligion.com/
© Justin Donnelly