Bad Religion

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
The Empire Strikes First is a fine follow up album. Can't disagree with most you wrote, apart from the title track being included in a section going nowhere (unless you see it as being in the first 75%). I'd say it is one of the cooler songs of the album. I do not mind Beyond Electric Dreams as much as you. Perhaps the repetition at the end bothers somewhat but as a whole this rocks! I like that type of riffing. One of the best 3 albums Bad Religion made since Brett returned.

= = = = = = =

Let's put a line there because now we're entering an era of not so great Bad Religion albums (in my view of course; it's a lot about taste).

New Maps of Hell
Requiem for Dissent's has a bad chorus and the rest of the song I find (below) average sounding. I do not like Honest Goodbye. Irritating vocal style. The who o ow bit is worse than most on The New America album. Prodigal Son again. Yuck. The best moment of The Grand Illusion is its last chord. I do like more about it but in the end the oo hoows did not do a good service.

alright / good but not that great songs:
Murder (I see what you mean but I like infectious chorus)
Grains of Wrath (wonderful bridge although the rest not that brilliant)
Heroes and Martyrs (top chorus!)

Favourite songs:
New Dark Ages
Before You Die (great bounce indeed!)
Lost Pilgrim (an absolute highlight with the most wonderful melodies and harmonies of the 21st century output)
Submission Complete (phenomenal Arabic vibe, rhythms, drums and solo; it could do with less dominant hoo hooows but the melodies and music are too good to be that bothered)

Overall I think this album should have less forgettable or bad moments in order to be positive about it. Maybe it is a melodic album, but regularly I think the melodies are not good. Literally forgettable as soon as I turn on another Bad Religion album. IMO the best four songs have a grabbing quality that is present in greater numbers (!) on most earlier releases. I'd say this album is the one but least good release of 1981-2007 (or even later/all output; surely a bottom 3 album).

Bonus tracks I appreciate:

Adam's Atoms (acoustic):

Chronophobia (acoustic):
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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Chronophobia is a very nice little song, the version Greg did on the Decades show was wonderful. Same goes for The Empire Strikes First (song), hearing it live made me appreciate it a lot more.

We definitely have pretty different views when it comes to which melodies we prefer in the band, I think. The way the chorus of Prodigal Son rolls along is so damn catchy to me, though it's definitely more of a Green Day-type melody. Still, after 30 years of albums, it's great to hear them mixing up their compositions a bit.

The main thing I've noticed is that Gurewitz is responsible for all of my least favorite songs and a good portion of my favorite songs because of his two styles: he either writes melodies that are far more sing-songy and hooky than average Greg tunes or he writes fast, atonal stuff. I generally despise the latter because they don't usually highlight Greg's voice, which is to me the highlight of the band. His melodic songs are 100% hit or miss. They either become the biggest radio hits in the band's catalogue (Sorrow, New Dark Ages, Infected, Digital Boy, Los Angeles is Burning) or just sound incredibly weird.

Beyond Electric Dreams kind of lands somewhere in the middle (weird, almost B-52's-ish melodies mixed with the occasional atonal chord choice) and I just really dislike the chorus and certainly the repetition. The vocal harmony sounds flat to me and I can't unhear it.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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The Dissent of Man (2010)
This one is not so good. I truly don’t have a lot to say about it because it’s just kind of filler. It’s a wild step back in aggression from the previous two albums and I don’t think it’s for the better. The melodies are folkier, the music is lighter and mostly more mid-tempo, and it seems like another “Mr. Brett tries to write pop songs” record.

Avalon and Meeting of the Minds are the only great songs. Only Rain and Ad Hominem are catchy and punchy. I like the weird hookiness of Won’t Somebody and the arena rock stupidity of Where The Fun Is. The bad songs include Devil In Stitches and Wrong Way Kids (can we just stop writing about being teenagers, please?). Everything else is incredibly average or forgettable.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
The Dissent of Man. A mellow album!

"Only Rain" is the absolute highlight of the album for me.
Such excellent melodies throughout the whole track, with lovely guitar leads (simple but probably best since Brett's comeback). Very rewarding, Mr. Brett!

"Avalon" has a very nice melancholic chorus! God bless Greg Graffin.

okay songs:
"Ad Hominem" lends its main riff from "Watch It Die". Good chorus, lovely bridge after the guitar solo.
"I Won't Say Anything" has a chorus that's not that cool, but I like the last bit of it ("riihiight"). The rest is fine.
"The Resist Stance" (cool main riff)
"Pride and the Pallow" (especially the chorus)

This one is not bad either! Bonus track "Finite".
Best part: "just how far it goes" @ 1:47 and that bridge afterwards. The backing vocals might be a bit too often and thick in the chorus, and the verse melody is a bit awkward, still an interesting track.

But again the ups are in the minority. Another bottom 3 album.
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
For once, I'm starting the next album. :--)

True North. This is surely a rediscovery! In my memory this one was mediocre and in line with the previous two. When I started listening this afternoon I thought that the first 4 songs were meh. They used the No Control era style, sometimes pretty literally, and I could not really hear memorable moments. I almost wanted to disqualify the whole thing, label it as one of the very worst albums.. and then track 5 came on.... and then the ride started. I'm now ending track 11 (Department of False Hope, which could be the best song of the album; the solo is probably better than Only Rain and the bridge afterwards totally rules) and I'm really sort of flabbergasted. What did I think when this came out? I even like Dharma the Bomb, which can be seen as The Beatles making metal (music sounds more metal than punk). Hello Cruel World is a very cool one to nod your head or tap your feet to. Vanity is incredibly fast, awesome speedy and tight drumming. Great little edgy track! Nothing to Dismay is on now. Quite ok although it borrowed a prominent The World Won't Stop melody. Fuck You does not have good chorus but the rest is quite energetic. Strong bridge. The album ends a bit like it started, using recycled parts without really being very memorable. Bookended by not so great songs, the ride of the big "middle" is good! Good to have pulled this from the dust!
 
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MrKnickerbocker

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True North (2013)
This album just absolutely rules. It's pure energy, hooks, killer drums and guitars all the way through. Honestly, most of the songs here are pretty great. I disagree about the opening, as I think the first three or four songs are absolutely fantastic and the middle represents the worst this album has to offer. True North, Past Is Dead, and Robin Hood In Reverse are top tier stuff and the next four tunes are all awesome, too. It's all great to me up until the two worst tracks (the one-two punch of Vanity and In Their Hearts Is Right) and the average Crisis Time. Dept of False Hope gets everything back on track with an absolutely killer chorus, Nothing to Dismay is very familiar but kicks ass so I don't care, and I absolutely love the bizarre, unrelenting My Head is Full of Ghosts.

I think this might be Bad Religion's most consistently good release ever (or at least in about 25 years). It hits a small snag in the middle, but as sub-par Bad Religion songs go, even those aren't that bad. What a spectacular late-stage release for the band. While reading the biography Do What You Want (and checking setlist.fm), I also found out that the only Bad Religion show I've (yet) seen was a radio station festival in Tucson, AZ in 2013 and the first show with new guitarist Mike Dimkich after long-time axe slinger Greg Hetson's exit. I guess this is "my" Bad Religion record, in a way.
 

MrKnickerbocker

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Age of Unreason (2019)
Another good one! It doesn't hold up to the stellar previous record, but the good songs here are quite fantastic. The opener is another absolute cracker of a tune that starts us off with the best foot forward. My favorites from this record I would rank up there with some of their best work ever: My Sanity, The Approach, End of History, and What Tomorrow Brings. The title track, Candidate and Old Regime are also pretty great.

Where the record falters, again, is in the obvious attempts to sound different aka more radio-friendly aka probably the songs written by Gurewitz (he shares credit with Graffin on every track so it's hard to tell). Do The Paranoid Style, Lose Your Head, Downfall, Since Now...all kinda sound like a different band, which is fine, I just don't particularly like most of them. Shock and awe: the only song I truly dislike here is Faces of Grief.

Also, it's worth mentioning the two tracks released prior to this album that ultimately were not included: The Kids Are Alt-Right and The Profane Rights of Man. The former also falls into the category of "genre-pushing" subpar tunes and the latter is a pretty standard BR song. Two additional unreleased songs from these sessions were released in 2020 and 2021. What Are We Standing For is solid, but maybe feels a little passionless compared to some of the songs that made the cut. Emancipation of the Mind is a little more melodic, and hopeful, but I doubt will become a classic.
 
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