Bad Religion

MrKnickerbocker

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Generator: good to fantastic Graffin songs / less captivating Mr. Brett songs (these three: Heaving is Falling, Two Babies in the Dark, Atomic Garden; the title track is iconic, still not my favourite). The middle is the tougher bit. ;)

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But the good outweighs the bad by far. Overall it is a very interesting album. Only 11 songs! Much longer song length.
This is also the start of the Bobby Schayer era. Bobby was the tightest drummer in Bad Religion history. Not a lot of flair, but a great basis and perfect glove for the music, which became a more polished and less aggressive sounding. The drums may sound a little too loud on this album (the band thought so; never again after this album).

The seven Graffin songs might represent some of his best, most consistent songwriting. We get very attractive vocal melodies in all songs. The album has a darker mood, nice atmosphere. Take the rhythm guitar style (chords) in No Direction, there is an eerie feeling about it. The Answer is absolute top material (how good can this get?). Only Entertainment could be the most catchy piece this band ever did. The chords are melancholic, truly wonderful. Brett and Greg Hetson really made a beautiful sound together for many years. Too Much to Ask and Tomorrow (great changes into the chorus) are more in "traditional" style and Fertile Crescent (neat little riffs) and Chimaera are fine specifements as well.
I went back and listened again (5th time) after reading this and I have to say, it’s mostly those middle tunes that leave a bad taste in my mouth. Tomorrow does nothing for me and the three Brett tunes are simply not good. The first three tracks are great, The Answer and Fertile Crescent are also phenomenal, and the final two tracks are solid. Chimaera is a bit stock and I really dislike the backing vocals in Only Entertainment, though the rest is awesome.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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Recipe for Hate (1993)
The first "major label" album comes with some ups and downs (technically it was only re-released on a major label). When the songs here are good, they're pretty phenomenal. When the songs aren't good, they're mostly just average or weird. The title track, American Jesus, Man With A Mission, Struck a Nerve, and Skyscraper are all awesome and experiment with a lot of new sounds, melodic choices, and even guest vocalists. Eddie Vedder also appears on Watch It Die, which is a solid tune. Honestly, there's nothing bad here, just some filler: which is a strange word to use with a Bad Religion record. Songs like Kerosene, My Poor Friend Me, Lookin' In, and Modern Day Catastrophists are all fine, but they don't really strike a nerve, if you'll pardon the bad pun. The experimental stuff here is cool, such as the aforementioned Man With a Mission and the incredibly bizarre, militaristic All Good Soldiers. Overall, I dig this record, but it's not all great. It does, however, contain the first Bad Religion song I ever heard (due to a William Elliot Whitmore cover, see below) and this song still remains an absolute favorite of mine.

 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I'd like to say some positive stuff about "My Poor Friend Me". Initally (for me that is around 1994/1995) it was not such a striking song for me, but in recent years I've come to appreciate this one a lot. There is such a melancholic (perhaps even sad) feeling coming from the guitars. Not specifically the lead, but the rhythm guitars. I love the chords and the sounds (is this in minor?) really go straight through the heart, with every chord strike. There is this sort of warm, harmonic blend that resonates deeply. The majority of the chorus (which is altogether a small part of the song) is not that brilliant, it's the rest: the stuff from 0:05 - 0:45 & 0:58 - 2:05 & 2:18 - end. Naturally Greg's vocal lines make this perfect. The lyrics are fine and very fitting as well.

I like most Graffin songs a lot, "Modern Day Catastrophists" and "Lookin' In" are the exceptions. The former is one of my brothers' favs. He introduced me to the band. I'm also not a big fan of Kerosine, Man with a Mission, Don't Pray on Me and Stealth.
Thus the songs in blue are my faves, which is a good portion. American Jesus, Skyscraper, Struck a Nerve and probably also the title tracks are top Bad Religion tracks. Once again, Brett is the weaker contributor here but I forgive him because he (co-)wrote American Jesus and Skyscraper. :notworthy:


1."Recipe for Hate"Graffin2:02
2."Kerosene"Gurewitz2:41
3."American Jesus"Gurewitz, Graffin3:17
4."Portrait of Authority"Graffin2:44
5."Man with a Mission"Gurewitz3:11
6."All Good Soldiers"Gurewitz3:07
7."Watch it Die"Graffin2:34
8."Struck a Nerve"Graffin3:47
9."My Poor Friend Me"Graffin2:42
10."Lookin' In"Graffin2:03
11."Don't Pray on Me"Gurewitz2:42
12."Modern Day Catastrophists"Graffin2:46
13."Skyscraper"Gurewitz3:15
14."Stealth" (Hidden track)Bentley, Gurewitz, Schayer0:42
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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Stranger Than Fiction (1994)
I really like this album. And also, it contains the single worst Bad Religion song I've ever heard. The first three tracks absolutely kick ass. Incomplete is a classic barnburner with a killer verse hook and a huge gang chorus. Leave Mine To Me is wacky, complex, and that second half is just stellar (especially those vocal harmonies). The title track is incredibly catchy, even if the lyrics are a little all over the place. Honestly, the whole first half of this record is good. Tiny Voices and The Handshake aren't my favorites, but they're still good rockers. Better Off Dead has a strange, minor-key vocal harmony that I enjoy and the catchiest chorus I've heard yet in the discography. Just an awesome performance from Greg. Infected isn't my favorite, but it's a catchy enough tune that was clearly trying to catch some fringe grunge fans.

The second half of the album goes downhill immediately with Television: the single most obnoxious song this band has ever done. I guess it's more listenable than the debut (production-wise), but holy shit I hate the chorus and I hate the guest vocals. The rest of Side Two is nowhere near as good as Side One, but it's all mostly solid (except Inner Logic, which I'm not a big fan of). Slumber is really great and a cool change of pace for the band. This is easily the most consistent record since the 80s and has a ton of huge highlights. Brett's melody writing was at the top (and end) of its game and Greg carries the band with confidence and style, as always. Definitely my favorite 90s record so far.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I can't call this one of my favs but I reckon this is surely Bad Religion's most successful record. Once again, (for me) Mr. Brett does the worst bunch of the songs. I'm not a big fan of the title track (not a very grabbing melody). Just as the verse melodies in Better Off Dead (the chorus is good though!), Infected has master riffing and great atmosphere. Television and Hooray for Me suck, Marked is not that good. 21st Century Digital Boy is a fine track but I prefer the original (with outro solo ;) ).

My favourite Brett song on this album is News from the Front! You can regard it as a sped up American Jesus haha! But I love it. Everything. Check the nice bass playing. Awesome chorus. This is a European bonus track, and therefore for me very usual.

All the Graffin songs (apart from the Japanese bonus track Markovian Process) are good to excellent.

My favourite songs from the album, bonus material included:

Leave Mine to Me
Tine Voices
The Handshake
Infected
Slumber
Inner Logic
What It Is
News from the Front

Leaders and Followers

Mediocrity

In fact, these last three (all bonus) are among my favs of these favs. :)
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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I definitely love News From The Front! It's far superior to a few songs from the "proper" record. I agree that Markovian Process is pretty average. The others are solid!
 

MrKnickerbocker

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The Gray Race (1996)
You can definitely tell that the band (Greg) is playing things safe on this record with the overall sound. I actually find Greg's vocal performance to be more varied than ever here and the chord changes to be a little more experimental, but the overall package screams of pleasing all of their fans without taking too many risks. Also, this is the first Bad Religion record that starts off with the weakest songs. The title track, Them And Us, and especially A Walk do very little for me at all. They're all fine as background music, but not very noteworthy. Parallel would actually be a really good track if they just stopped repeating the hook so many damn times. Things get better with Punk Rock Song, which is a tasty and self-aware little bop. I like Empty Causes too, such cool little vocal touches from Greg here!

Other favorites include Pity The Dead and the last four tracks. Victory is killer, Drunk Sincerity reminds me of a punked up Irish tune, Come Join Us is hooky and brilliant, and Cease is wonderful. I wouldn't call this record a favorite, but, as always, there's a lot to love. It's definitely a sign that the band can go on without Mr. Brett (cheers to new guitarist Brian Baker!), despite it feeling quite a bit safe.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I guess we may have opposite Bad Religion tastes, at times. It could be we prefer the material in different keys. I played the album yesterday. I became a fan before it came out and with the exceptions of the lesser songs (not the most grabbing melodies imo, but surely better than the worst on certain previous albums) Empty Causes & the "Ten in 2010, Victory and Drunk Sincerity"-trio, I find this a great ride. Wonderfully produced, and well written material. Greg went through a difficult time and you can hear it in the lyrics and I guess he put a lot of himself in his voice as well. This bunch below I like the most and Them and Us, Parallel and Spirit Shine are probably my favs

1."The Gray Race"Graffin, Baker2:06
2."Them and Us"Graffin2:50
4."Parallel"Graffin3:19
7."Nobody Listens"Graffin, Baker1:57
8."Pity the Dead"Graffin2:56
9."Spirit Shine"Graffin, Baker2:11
10."The Streets of America"Graffin, Baker3:48
14."Come Join Us"Graffin2:03
15."Cease"Graffin2:35

There is a bit of a metal edge to Streets and Cease has an incredible melancholic, sad mood. I find these songs everything but safe. The Gray Race opens the album with a bang and the riff is convincing. Love that slown down middle part. Them and Us is a monster track, with blistering chorus.
Parallel has fantastic singing in the verses. Haunting melody, high stuff. Spirit Shine.. I love that beginning and how it continues in the verses, with this cool bass figure underneath. The Streets of America is sort threatening, great vibe. Come Join Us has a kind of rhythm that is hardly used elsewhere (more like Helloween's "I Want Out"). I don't think Bad Religion made better albums after this one, at least not much better.

I quite like Japanese bonus track: The Dodo!

Now I'm going back in my corner, afraid you're not going to like the next album at all (I dislike a few songs but I really dig some others a lot).
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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I guess we may have opposite Bad Religion tastes, at times. It could be we prefer the material in different keys. I played the album yesterday. I became a fan before it came out and with the exceptions of the lesser songs (not the most grabbing melodies imo, but surely better than the worst on certain previous albums) Empty Causes & the "Ten in 2010, Victory and Drunk Sincerity"-trio, I find this a great ride. Wonderfully produced, and well written material. Greg went through a difficult time and you can hear it in the lyrics and I guess he put a lot of himself in his voice as well. This bunch below I like the most and Them and Us, Parallel and Spirit Shine are probably my favs

1."The Gray Race"Graffin, Baker2:06
2."Them and Us"Graffin2:50
4."Parallel"Graffin3:19
7."Nobody Listens"Graffin, Baker1:57
8."Pity the Dead"Graffin2:56
9."Spirit Shine"Graffin, Baker2:11
10."The Streets of America"Graffin, Baker3:48
14."Come Join Us"Graffin2:03
15."Cease"Graffin2:35

There is a bit of a metal edge to Streets and Cease has an incredible melancholic, sad mood. I find these songs everything but safe. The Gray Race opens the album with a bang and the riff is convincing. Love that slown down middle part. Them and Us is a monster track, with blistering chorus.
Parallel has fantastic singing in the verses. Haunting melody, high stuff. Spirit Shine.. I love that beginning and how it continues in the verses, with this cool bass figure underneath. The Streets of America is sort threatening, great vibe. Come Join Us has a kind of rhythm that is hardly used elsewhere (more like Helloween's "I Want Out"). I don't think Bad Religion made better albums after this one, at least not much better.

I quite like Japanese bonus track: The Dodo!

Now I'm going back in my corner, afraid you're not going to like the next album at all (I dislike a few songs but I really dig some others a lot).
I think I might just be more nitpicky than you regarding a lot of their material. On the title track, for instance, I truly dislike Greg’s semi-spoken word vocals during the slowed down bridge and it kinda ruins the song for me. I just don’t hear a real hook in Them And Us.

I do like most of Parallel and Spirit Shine is great! Also, totally agreed that Ten in 2010 is one of the worst. Streets of America is definitely a cool, ominous tune. Forgot to mention that one. Cease is fantastic.

I’ve given No Substance one listen so far and…yeah, I guess my comments about “playing it safe” apply far more to that record than this one. There are certainly some outside the box aspects about Gray Race.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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No Substance (1998)
And here we have...elevator punk rock. Look, so far there isn't a single bad record by this band, but this one certainly stretches the limits. As always, Greg Graffin's vocals and lyrics are the highlight, but a special mention and MVP goes to newest guitarist Brian Baker. His playing is precise, melodic, complex, and perfect for every song. Now, onto the songs. The opening duo is incredibly meh. Hear It is completely boring and Shades of Truth has some nice singing and guitar playing but ultimately is too plodding. The next three (All Fantastic Images, The Biggest Killer In American History, and the title track) are all better, with the guitar playing on the title track (that main riff!) being incredibly awesome. Raise Your Voice is fucking terrible, Sowing the Seeds of Utopia falls flat in its attempt to sound like an 80s BR tune, and The Hippy Killers is boring filler.

The second half is actually worse than the first, ranging from terrible numbers (Millennium Address, Mediocre Minds, At The Mercy of Imbeciles, and The Same Person) to fillers that *GASP* overstay their welcome and plod along to nowhere (Voracious March of Godliness, Victims of the Revolution, and Strange Denial). It's a shame, too, because as I stated before, the guitar playing here is top notch. The riffs are more distinct than ever and Baker shows up like a punk rock Adrian Smith, but the songs themselves are just not great. The aforementioned Strange Denial has amazing guitar work, but it just never goes anywhere. The closer, In So Many Ways is the strongest track. It's worth noting that this is a much more mid-tempo album, with only a few tunes reaching the speed of classic Bad Religion songs.

If this record randomly came on, I'd listen to it. Cause's it's Bad Religion. But the only songs I'd actively return to are In So Many Ways and the title track.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Well, I agree that at there are a lot of minor songs here but I do feel you overlook some pure gold (tastes differ of course). It's (often) the (melancholic) feel, the vocals, the harmonies, the haunting melodies. But also the guitar solos. I love these songs very much (really, really very good; Shades of Truth, Strange Denial and In So Many Ways might be my fav 3):

Shades of Truth (just fab, totally my thing)
Sowing the Seeds of Utopia (awesome tempo changes/chorus)
The Voracious March of Godliness (lovely build-up, guitar sound and riffing)
Strange Denial (what a solo)
In So Many Ways

Other enjoyable songs: All Fantastic Images, Victim of the Revolution (great pre-chorus) and The Same Person.

If these top 5 or even 8 songs would have been on an EP it surely would have been one of my favourite releases.

In 1997 we had a few studio songs that I like:

"It's Reciprocal" (from the live album Tested). Simple chorus, but I like the verses and the mid piece.

"Tested"(from the same album)

Here are my favourite rare (unreleased) songs of the mid nineties era:

"Strange Denial" (demo) (I like this, sort of heavier, production; yes it has drumcomputer but I like all those awesome sounding guitars)!

"The Truth" Knick, I know it sounds crazy but I think this weird unreleased song scores very, very high in my book. You know I like that melancholic guitar sound and singing. Well, it's all over this one. We need to be patient for that first chorus (although there are two types of chord progressions in the verses) and those lovely guitars underneath. It only happens twice. I'll quote a YouTube comment: "Fucking good. Rather emotional and possibly too personal to release."

:notworthy: <3
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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Well, I agree that at there are a lot of minor songs here but I do feel you overlook some pure gold (tastes differ of course). It's (often) the (melancholic) feel, the vocals, the harmonies, the haunting melodies. But also the guitar solos. I love these songs very much (really, really very good; Shades of Truth, Strange Denial and In So Many Ways might be my fav 3):

Shades of Truth (just fab, totally my thing)
Sowing the Seeds of Utopia (awesome tempo changes/chorus)
The Voracious March of Godliness (lovely build-up, guitar sound and riffing)
Strange Denial (what a solo)
In So Many Ways
I agree that Shades and Strange are good tunes and I appreciate them, but, like a lot of other songs on this record, they just go on too long for me.
In 1997 we had a few studio songs that I like:

"It's Reciprocal" (from the live album Tested). Simple chorus, but I like the verses and the mid piece.

"Tested"(from the same album)

Here are my favourite rare (unreleased) songs of the mid nineties era:

"Strange Denial" (demo) (I like this, sort of heavier, production; yes it has drumcomputer but I like all those awesome sounding guitars)!

"The Truth" Knick, I know it sounds crazy but I think this weird unreleased song scores very, very high in my book. You know I like that melancholic guitar sound and singing. Well, it's all over this one. We need to be patient for that first chorus (although there are two types of chord progressions in the verses) and those lovely guitars underneath. It only happens twice. I'll quote a YouTube comment: "Fucking good. Rather emotional and possibly too personal to release."

:notworthy: <3
Tested is a great song! Love those first couple acapella lines. Awesome riff and bridge instrumental too.

Verses of It’s Reciprocal are great but I’m not keen on the chorus.

The Truth is certainly an interesting one. Guitar leads are incredibly emotive and the song is definitely powerful. I do think it needs to be in a higher key, though, it’s a little too monotonous. Could’ve been really great if recorded with a producer, though (as long as it wasn’t Todd Rundgren).
 

MrKnickerbocker

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The New America (2000)
Don’t Sell Me Short is a great song. It should have been a single. Because this album is really, truly, not good. I 100% blame Todd Rundgren (who pushed hard to change lyrics, melodies, structures, and tempos). I honestly find this to be a bigger departure than Into The Unknown. The songs are all midtempo, the lyrics are very concise and more positive, the album cover is laughable and every fucking chorus has a “woah-oh” section. Kudos to Bobby for at least doing some interesting half time breaks throughout (even if they kill the momentum of some choruses).

There’s something to be said for trying new things, but this feels like a band that’s checked out, an overreaching producer, and a handsy record label shitfest. It barely sounds like Bad Religion and commits the ultimate sin for a rock record: it’s boring. I will skip this album on future relistens.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Yep, this album is certainly the least of most, if not all Bad Religion releases. Certainly less enjoyable than everything that came before. There are some later albums that imo lack captivating melodies/passages, but I'll play them again to see how that goes.

"Don't Sell Me Short" is indeed great. Man, what a chorus! Very memorable. Other two album songs I like are:

"A Whisper in Time" (gotta love the lead work, clean chords and vocals
"There Will Be a Way"

and these two b-sides:

"The Fast Life"

"Pretenders" (I like that repetitive chorus, the odd clean guitars on top. And the midpiece. Not a big fan of this drum computer).

Edit: a bottom 3 album
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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"Don't Sell Me Short" is indeed great. Man, what a chorus! Very memorable. Other two album songs I like are:

"A Whisper in Time" (gotta love the lead work, clean chords and vocals
"There Will Be a Way"

and these two b-sides:

"The Fast Life"

"Pretenders" (I like that repetitive chorus, the odd clean guitars on top. And the midpiece. Not a big fan of this drum computer).
The Fast Life is alright, but it falls victim to what a lot of songs on this record do: repetition. I feel the same way about Whisper In Time, they repeat the same lyrics way too much. Normally this doesn't bother me, see Iron Maiden, but Bad Religion has trained me to expect every chorus to have different lyrics so it's jarring when they conform to a much more simplistic lyrical style. Pretenders is alright, but also has too much repetition for me (and more "hey ya, woah oh" annoyances).
 

MrKnickerbocker

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The Process of Belief (2002)
And we're on the upswing! This is a good album. It has flaws, but the return of Mr. Brett is certainly a kick in the ass for the songwriting. That said, the weakest moments here are still Brett's, but so are the strongest. The partnership between him and Greg is truly where Bad Religion thrives and you can hear it throughout this record. The opening trio is a kick in the ass: fast, catchy, and hardcore (the strongest here is the exceptional Prove It). Sorrow, Broken, The Defense, Kyoto Now! and Epiphany are absolutely classic, perfect Bad Religion tunes that also manage to explore some new territory along the way. Reggae, acoustic rock, some metal tonalities, alt-rock darkness and tons of minor melodic shifts really add to the sonic wave created by this record. Those five songs alone could make up one of the best five-song EPs of all time. Destined for Nothing is also pretty good and The Lie is solid.

Now, for the bad: some typical Mr. Brett absolute lyrical and melodic misfires. You Don't Belong is atrocious. Evangeline is saccharine and has some of the dumbest lyrics of all time - also, who pronounces it like that?! Materialist is too talky and wonky for me. Bored and Extremely Dangerous is exactly that: boring. Also it's a stupid sonic experiment that simply does not work. Another major complaint: where the hell is Brian Baker?! The previous two records may have been pretty bad, but his solos and lead guitar work were an absolute highlight and I truly wish that Mr. Brett would have allowed him to play more leads here. Sorrow, for instance, would be an even better-than-perfect song if it had a real guitar solo. But I think the strengths truly outweigh the filler and the band sounds rejuvenated. It's a great record.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Couldn't agree more! Perhaps the best album they did this century, although I'd like to see how the other albums will go. I have these 6 album favourites:

1."Supersonic"
2."Prove It"
3."Can't Stop It"
4."Broken"
9."Epiphany"
11."The Defense"

And this lovely bonus track "Shattered Faith". Phenomenal drive with all those bass drums.


Sorrow is good too but I think the band has been overfocusing a bit on it (Brian Baker, I do not think it is the greatest song Bad Religion ever did).
I also like Evangeline's verses (the rhythmic vocal lines are petty cool).

The tour I saw for this album was my first Bad Religion concert. I went with my wife (whom I essentially met via fandom over this band) and my brother, who saw them once or twice in the mid nineties. Great show. One thing I didn't like to see was the overactively spitting Brooks Wackerman. Also his live playing seemed overactive, really too busy (and wild) for this kind of music imo.

I'm pretty sure Brett (who has an Epitaph office in Amsterdam) was at the side of the stage watching, I distinctly remember Greg going to the side and let him sing along in his mic, during the No Control chorus! Even though we could not see him that well, it just had to be him! :--)
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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Shattered Faith is a super cool tune! Brooks Wackerman certainly brought a new level of talent to this rhythm section (on the recordings, any way).

I also like Evangeline's verses (the rhythmic vocal lines are petty cool).
The nature of them is cool, I just the lyrics themselves are pretty bad. "Hey Jack, get back," etc....Yuck.
I'm pretty sure Brett (who has an Epitaph office in Amsterdam) was at the side of the stage watching, I distinctly remember Greg going to the side and let him sing along in his mic, during the No Control chorus! Even though we could not see him that well, it just had to be him! :--)
Based on the chapters regarding this period in the book, he was around for the tour (even if he didn't always play)!
 

MrKnickerbocker

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The Empire Strikes First (2004)
First off: this record is heavy. Easily their heaviest record yet. Sinister Rouge has aggressive double bass drums (and is a killer song)! The fact that they open with a gloomy "overture" is a nice sign to paint the way. They take an exact note from the previous record by opening with the three shortest, catchy punkiest tunes - all of which are good, though Rouge is the best. The first 75% of this record is incredibly solid. I love the twisty, catchy chorus on All There Is and Greg's wonderful vocal choice on the word "is." Los Angeles is Burning is another glitzy and catchy Gurewitz tune. Let Them Eat War has a great hook and some more spectacular drumming, though the guest rapper is woefully out of place and wreaks of the early 2000s. God's Love and To Another Abyss are masterpieces by Graffin, the latter sounding like something I never expected to hear from this band.

It falls off after this, though, as the next few songs don't go much of anywhere. The Quickening is average at best, the title track is sing-songy and lame and I have a strong dislike for "spelling word songs", Beyond Electric Dreams is awkward and 2 minutes too long, Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever has a mildly ear-worming chorus but sounds like something leftover from a 90s B-side tape. Thankfully, Live Again (The Fall of Man) ends the album on a decently high note. Overall, another pretty good record that falters by having too much material. They could easily have dropped 2-3 songs and made this a fantastic album. It's nice to hear Baker's guitar returning a bit and I truly enjoy the darkness and heaviness of the production. Wackerman sounds far more acclimated to the band than he did on Process. Gurewitz's return continues to help Bad Religion fire on all cylinders, even when he's writing the worst songs on the record.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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New Maps of Hell (2007)
I am continuously impressed by Bad Religion's energy and consistency, and this might be their most consistent record since Stranger Than Fiction (or earlier). There are some deviations from the normal style, especially in the vocals. Graffin really pushes himself with the melodic choices and range here, proving once again that he is the most interesting voice in punk history. There's some absolutely incredible melodies and performances throughout this record. Unfortunately, it starts with some of the weaker tracks. Heroes & Martyrs is the only song from the opening trio that I like, and it's still pretty average. I hate the hardcore tinged vocal FX on 52 Seconds (and the later absolute shitstream, Murder) that seems to always return with Mr. Brett because he writes more atonal riffs.

Anyway, it all turns around with New Dark Ages: one of the best Bad Religion songs and obviously a good radio tune. It's got a killer drive, metal palm muting, and guitar harmonies. What's not to love?! From there, it's mostly a run of good-to-great material until the very end (except the aforementioned, absolute shite Murder), with highlights for me being Requiem for Dissent (though the backing vocals are a bit loud), Before You Die (love the bounce), Dearly Beloved (it's a grower, but the verse melodies and chorus layers are phenomenal), Grains of Wrath (what a chorus!), and the stellar Prodigal Son (another chorus that is just gorgeous). I'm not very fond of the closing songs. Submission Complete is interesting and heavy, but it falls flat due to the incredibly melodic nature of the rest of the album. Fields of Mars has a get-up-and-go, but I just don't like that chorus harmony...and they repeat it 45 times.

Though it starts and ends on a bit of a lull, the 30 minutes in the middle makes this a record to which I will frequently return. The deluxe edition features a bunch of acoustic b-sides and older tunes that are fantastic.
 
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