BAD RELIGION: RECIPE FOR HATE (1993)
1) Recipe For Hate; 2) Kerosene; 3) American Jesus; 4) Portrait Of Authority; 5) Man With A Mission; 6) All Good Soldiers; 7) Watch It Die; 8) Struck A Nerve; 9) My Poor Friend Me; 10) Lookin' In; 11) Don't Pray On Me; 12) Modern Day Catastrophists; 13) Skyscraper; 14) Stealth.
Unfortunately, the degeneration continues, and on Recipe For Hate starts getting seriously noticeable. While musical change is certainly welcome per se, the reasons behind this kind of change had more to do with Graffin's growing self-importance than any sort of desire to explore new musical ground. As the mean punch grows weaker, the pathos gets stronger, and the album hardly even begins living up to its name — by now, influences from pop, country, folk, and the newly nascent grunge scene (Eddie Vedder even contributes guest backing vocals to one of the songs) have seriously eroded Bad Religion's ability to generate pure, raffinated hatred.
To be fair, the title track works well in the old style (except for the bridge, which slows down the tempo and turns the song from hardcore into grunge), but already ʽKeroseneʼ, with its sing-along, melodic chorus shows that Bad Religion have made a serious investment in the pathos market, and it only gets worse from there. Now we have an abundance of slow tempos, melodies drowned in buzz and distortion, and vocals that invite us to sing along with anthemic pride. Yes, the lyrics are still decent enough, but it's not as if things have changed much, or Graffin has found any new subjects to sing about, in the past few years — just a bunch of verbal modifications to describe the PSS (Permanent State of Shit) in which happy America finds itself.
Even though I will have a hard time remembering them, the best songs here are the ones that would fit in well on Against The Grain — speedy, bitey, with flashy solos and fast-fleeting vocals, like the title track, ʽMy Poor Friend Meʼ, and ʽLookin' Inʼ. I couldn't care less about ʽMan With A Missionʼ, which tries to spice things up with a slide guitar part and «soulful» vocals that sound like a cross between Eddie Vedder, Bono, and John Doe from downtown (Eddie wins, because in the end it does sound just like a sped up Pearl Jam with some country guitar on top). Nor do I give a damn about the «martial» overtones of ʽAll Good Soldiersʼ, or about the pub-folk vibe of ʽWatch It Dieʼ, no matter how vehemently it keeps on preaching the apocalypse.
Apparently, at this moment the apex of Bad Religion's creativity is supposed to be ensconced in a track like ʽStealthʼ — a fourty-second splicing of excerpts from George Bush's Union Address, making him say stuff like "this weekend I will spend over 800 million dollars on drugs" and "I will continue pushing free narcotics for all low income people". Umm... what? Is that considered to be funny, or instructive, or inspirational? Okay, so it is just a silly joke tucked on to the end of the album, but somehow I've always preferred "her Majesty's a pretty nice girl".
It's fairly indicative of the overall spirit, though — as «socially relevant» lyrics and statements totally get the better of the band, they simply become... boring. I mean, why write new and worse songs about the same old shit if you can just keep on singing the old and better ones? Recipe For Hate, you say? Well, I prefer my hate to be cooked without any fucking recipes. Good title, good album cover, fairly sorrowful content-to-form match — even if it was their best-selling album to date, but that's just because people usually do not like to take their medicine at breakneck speed: with Bad Religion taking more and more cues from the grunge movement, their commercial potential keeps growing at an exponential.
Check "Recipe For Hate" (MP3) on Amazon