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Friday, February 8, 2013

Bad Religion: True North


1) True North; 2) Past Is Dead; 3) Robin Hood In Reverse; 4) Land Of Endless Greed; 5) Fuck You; 6) Dharma And The Bomb; 7) Hello Cruel World; 8) Vanity; 9) 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.

Each of us is at liberty to select the final stage when the ensuing judgement for a Bad Religion record is made of just one statement — «Verily, here is one more Bad Religion record that feels exactly the same way as any Bad Religion record». The majority of the not-giving-a-damn public would have been likely to go through that final stage circa the release of No Control or, at the latest, Generator. I did give a damn, and eventually succeeded in making it right to the finals, even if nary a single of those album descriptions could qualify as somewhat instructive.

With True North, I end up throwing in the towel. All right, so here is one more Bad Religion record that feels exactly the same way as any Bad Religion record. I only have to mention that the prominent tracks include Graffin's power-poppy ʽCrisis Timeʼ, with a colorful guitar solo, and Gurewitz's ʽDharma And The Bombʼ (unusually titled for a Bad Religion song, despite the usual antiwar sentiments of the lyrics). 

If these two paragraphs feel stylistically close to the beginning of the previous review, this is un­derstandable — reviews have to reflect their object, and what better way is there to reflect two near-identical objects than writing two near-identical reviews? Especially considering that, under standard conditions, Bad Religion are immune to most criticism. Here is how the average critic is expected to act: [A] Listen to the latest Bad Religion album; [B] Admire how fast, energetic, socially conscious, and deeply sincere all the songs are; [C] Write a review, beginning with "[N] years into their career, Bad Religion are still at it / going strong / rocking their heads off / tearing down walls / kicking establishment's ass / ... / ..."; [D] Forget every single thing about the album three seconds after the review has been submitted; [E] Go out there, have a life, meet your lifemate, have a kid, marry, settle down, wait 2-3 years; [F] Loop back to [A], repeat process. (Okay, so it doesn't really mean you should have a new kid every 2-3 years, but you do get the overall message, I hope).

It all works perfectly unless you make the haywire decision of reviewing all the Bad Religion albums at the same time — and just as I put a final stop to the pseudo-review of Dissent Of Man, lo and behold, here comes another Bad Religion. Fresh from the oven, sixteen songs in thirty-five minutes, half Graffin, half Gurewitz, a few slow ones, mostly fast ones, and each one is either predicting the apocalypse or hinting that it might already be here, we are all simply too dumb and zombified to notice. The most introspective that Graffin gets here is when he is trying to explain to us why he likes saying «fuck you» so much (ʽFuck Youʼ) — apparently, because "sometimes just a word is the most satisfying sound". Well, uh, yes, whatever. He probably wrote that one for his university colleagues or something.

But I have spent too much time with these guys to even pretend to feel bored about it — I know perfectly well what to expect, and I sort of... expect it. In fact, I'm probably going to feel a little something missing from my life once Bad Religion finally breaks up for good — except I suspect that they are going to outlive me eventually, because Greg Graffin ain't gonna stop until The Man is down and The People are totally enlightened, so get ready for repea­ting the Bad Religion ritual in a couple more years.

Check "True North" (CD) on Amazon
Check "True North" (MP3) on Amazon


  1. "Admire how fast, energetic"
    Here is where my problem with Bad Religion begins - they aren't usually that fast.
    That said I think the opener True North very, very nice. Decent riff, decent melodies. Plus a bonus. 'Cause the bass is trying to break out and play some countermelodies! That's the way to impress me.
    The mellow intro of Past is Dead pleases me as well. After that boredom rises its ugly face.

  2. Well, now I feel kind of awkward. I know when I informed you about the release of this album a few weeks ago, I was sorta overly curious if you'd review it so soon after it had been released. And now reading that it seems to have partially fried a portion of your brain, George, I can't help but feel subconsciously responsible for the review coming out this quickly. So I'm sorry about that, if the need to be sorry should actually be.

    At the very least, we can all move on and look forward to the future now. I for one am quite excited of the possibilities of brand-new Bangles reviews.

  3. while (x < infinity) { system.out.println("
    Greg Graffin ain't gonna stop, even if whatever ultra-left forces they support will come to power all over the world by miracle. They'll just recognize, that the shit hits the fan again. Same as every new BR record does. But, thanks God and Chomsky it happens not each and every year this times. I'm feeling the bad religious urge to repeat the mantra again.

  4. thanks for share.