by Matt De Mello
Bad Religion was one of the first punk bands I ever listened to when I started getting into punk rock. Their intelligence and true life lyrics really made me think and I valued that about them. They made some truly amazing records in the 1980’ and ‘90s. They were records that stood for something, records that had a sarcastic wit to go with potent three chord structures that struck a nerve (pun intended) at society’s complacency in wars, lies and death.
Lately, though, Bad Religion has been all over the place. Ever since New Maps of Hell, they seem to be going through the motions. Their lyrics being overly hyperbolic, the rhythms nearly identical (really how many combinations of three chords can there be before you start repeating?) and the voice of Greg Graffin, after a foray into country music, seems to be worse than ever. Bad Religion has had many albums that aren’t great, but had some likable songs on them. True North, their 16th studio album is abysmal and is borderline unlistenable.
I have loved this band for as long as I can remember and that love will never wane. However, it is time for Bad Religion to reassess their relevancy. If they don’t want to fade into more obscurity than they already have faded into with age and time and an ineffectual public that cares little about intelligence, then they must go back to the style and essence of what they once were. This latest incarnation is disappointing and sad. I’m not saying that they have to go back to Suffer, but maybe The Gray Race or even The Empire Strikes First. This is just not where Bad Religion should be, the anger of youth having dissipated, perhaps these punk veterans don’t have anything left to say.