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There was a time when it seemed that Socratic punks Bad Religion had lost their way. But just when fans thought the L.A. band was buried under a string of muddled and depleted major label efforts, the band retreated back to its scorched-Earth style of thinking man’s pop-punk.
Now 11 years into their artistic resurgence, Bad Religion sound younger than they did a decade ago. True North, their sixteenth (!) full-length release, finds the band once again snugly in its comfort zone of conceptual lyrics, bristling guitars, slaughtered drumming, and harmonized background vocals. And while this is a rabbit that they’ve been pulling out of their hat for almost 35 years, it still resonates with brutal clarity.
The wide swath of tracks on True North crackle with the machine gun energy of albums like 1988’s Suffer, 1989’s No Control, and 1990’s Against The Grain, and that in itself is high praise. “Land of Endless Greed” and “Dept. of False Hope,” among others, keep to the band’s time-tested script of thought-provoking punk rock, while “Hello Cruel World” calls to mind “Infected” from 1994’s Stranger Than Fiction.
Lyrically, however, the band is still tossing daggers at longtime targets like corporate greed, America’s pervasive herd mentality, and the nature of God. When frontman Greg Graffin posits, “Let’s say we try to get this right” on “Robin Hood In Reverse,” he barks it with conviction, proving that the band isn’t done interrupting the status quo.
True North is another solid addition to the Bad Religion repertoire, even if it integrates itself a little too well to stand apart from the pack. But in the end, the record’s ability to keep pace with the band’s lengthy, impressive resume should prove good enough to appease most fans.
Essential Tracks: “Land of Endless Greed”, “Dept. of False Hope”, and “Robin Hood In Reverse”
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