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Bad Religion - True North (Review)

Bad Religion, True North

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

LOS Angeles punk icons Bad Religion return with their 16th studio album and seem to have lost none of their fire.

Produced by the band and Joe Barresi, True North celebrates the power of cogent punk in the face of personal pain and adversity and finds the band deliberately re-visiting and refining the powerful and melodic Southern California sound they helped to define.

Explains co-songwriter and guitarist Brett Gurewitz: “We went back to our original mission statement of short concise bursts of melody and message. The intent was to record stripped down punk songs without sacrificing any conceptual density.”

The result is a lesson in sharp, concise punk rock songwriting for lovers of the genre. Yet it does struggle to offer up much appeal beyond the hardcore punk fans.

That said, there are some genuine highlights. And one of those, ironically, comes when the band decide to flesh things out and adopt a more rock approach.

Hello Cruel World is a truly epic moment… one that thrives on its solid guitar riffs and anthemic chorus, and a song that manages to remain disillusioned without having to bring its punk fire to the mix.

In stark contrast comes Robin Hood in Reverse, a frenetic offering that takes on corporations in its own way and triumphs with one of the most intelligent rapid rockers you’re likely to hear in a while. It harks back to their classic material.

In Their Hearts Is Right also adopts a frenetic pace but somehow fuses in some sharp melodicism and another cracking chorus (one that’s ripe for sing-along potential live), Nothing To Dismay laments the lack of security in modern life in kick-ass fashion and Changing Tide rounds things off with another concise blast of volatile energy.

If the remainder of the album is more straight-forward and offers less variation, then there’s always something intelligent or thought-provoking to be found in the song-writing, which is what elevates Bad Religion above so many of their punk-rock pretenders.

Hence, while True North is difficult to recommend to many people beyond its target listener base, it does serve potent reminder of a band that has been able to stand the test of time by doing what they do so consistently well.

Listen to True North:

Download picks: True North, Past Is Dead, Hello Cruel World, In Their Hearts Is Righ, Nothing To Dismay

Track listing:

  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