|Category:||Review - Newspaper||Publish date:||2/1/2002|
Bad Religion Keep The Faith
by Darryl Sterdan
Winnipeg Sun, February 1, 2002
Truth be told, it's been kind of hard not to lose faith in Bad Religion over the last few years.
And at the risk of sounding like some holier-than-thou punk zealot, the disillusionment began in the mid-'90s, when the seminal California hardcore outfit jumped ship from their long-serving indie label Epitaph for the big leagues of Atlantic. That was when guitarist and band co-founder Brett Gurewitz (not coincidentally, also the founder of Epitaph) left for good. That was when their songs started to get slower and longer. That was when they stopped producing their records and started working with pop gurus like Ric Ocasek and Todd Rundgren. In short, that was when they stopped being the Bad Religion everybody worshipped and started to morph into some other version of Bad Religion that sounded similar but wasn't nearly as good.
Now, it seems, like wayward sheep returning to the fold, the boys have seen the light and exorcised all those demons. For their dozenth studio album The Process of Belief, things are back to the way they were. Or at least damn close to it. Gurewitz is back in the lineup. The band is back on the Epitaph roster. The reinvigorated sextet -- vocalist Greg Graffin, guitarists Gurewitz, Brian Baker and Greg Hetson, bassist Jay Bentley and new drummer Brooks Wackerman -- even returned to Gurewitz's Westbeach Studio, their old stomping ground, to record these 14 tracks of scrappy, rough 'n' tumble old-school punk. What more could any fan want?
Not much. Simply put, this 36-minute blast of classic-sounding SoCal skate-punk is Bad Religion's rawest, hardest-hitting album in a decade. Bursting out of the gate at full throttle with the suitably titled Supersonic and bolting for the finish line, The Process of Belief finds the band picking up right where their classic early '80s discs left off. These tunes average about 2:30 in length and plenty clock in at two minutes or less -- shorter, sharper shots than BR has written for some time. Graffin's lyrics -- especially on Bored and Extremely Dangerous, Destined for Nothing and Prove It -- continue to balance hard-hitting punk stubbornness and aggression ("I don't ever need to prove myself to you") with thought-provoking philosophy ("It's not what you own, it's what you throw away"). The three-guitar lineup creates a churning wall of melodic crunch -- man, we bet these guys sound awesome live now -- while the layered backup harmonies and gang-chorus vocals put a cherry-sweet topping on the sundae. And new drummer Wackerman underpins the whole affair with precise, tasteful pounding that continually reinvents the tired punk-polka wheel.
In short, The Process of Belief is that rarest of punk documents: An album fast, heavy and tough enough to keep the mosh pit roiling, while at the same time smart and mature enough to keep the old punks on the back wall nodding their heads in appreciation.
We never would have believed it if we didn't hear it for ourselves.
Interview image(s) added: Bad Religion interview
German transcript updated: Bad Religion interview
Article image(s) added: Bad Times issue #7
Article image(s) added: Bad Times issue #8
Article image(s) added: Bad Times issue #9
Article image(s) added: Bad Times issue #6
English transcript updated: Bad Religion’s Brian Baker on touring in the 'Age of Unreason'
English transcript updated: Bad Religion revels in being ‘the thinking man’s punk band’
Interview image(s) added: Das Paradoxon des Punk
German transcript added: Das Paradoxon des Punk
Review image(s) added: Age Of Unreason
German transcript added: Age Of Unreason