|Category:||Review - Newspaper||Publish date:||1/18/2002|
|Source:||Contra Costa Times, January 18, 2002|
Fans Will Follow Band Through "Process"
by Tony Hicks
Contra Costa Times, January 18, 2002
Listening to Bad Religion for some punk fans is like repeatedly going to a favorite restaurant and ordering the same meal. If it tastes good, nobody cares if it's the same fare every time.
The grub wasn't always that great after guitarist and co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz left the band in the mid-'90s, after its most successful release, "Stranger Than Fiction." The band's first two post-"Mr. Brett" albums replaced the typical frenzied energy with mediocre riffs and lyrics that seemed to go through the motions. It was like parents staying together for the family name.
The band came out of its rut a bit in 2000 with "The New America," but still lacked Gurewitz's edge. Two decades is a mighty long shelf life for any punk band, so no one could blame Bad Religion if it just faded away.
It won't, though, even if the band's best days are behind it. Not while there's a society out there full of nonsense at which to take shots. The new record "The Process of Belief" finds Bad Religion reunited with Gurewitz and back with Epitaph -- the label Gurewitz developed years ago for the band.
Having three guitars instead of two changes little. Reuniting the writing team of Gurewitz and singer Greg Graffin yields better songs than on the previous three records, though the band is clearly rehashing at this point. The CD also lacks much of a signature or standout rocker. But that never seemed to matter much as long as the band still delivered the message loud and clear. It especially won't matter now that it's back from major label control.
The good news is that the same old sound is one that no one else really tries -- buzz-saw tempo and vicious guitars somehow meshing with surprisingly fresh melodies carrying pointed lyrics.
This is definitely a Bad Religion album, from the opening hyperactive strains of "Supersonic" to the political criticism of "Kyoto Now." If only real punk rock could get on the radio, songs like "Broken" and "Epiphany" might have a chance. Both feature great dynamics, which the band relies on when going full-speed ahead. Same with "Evangeline," which spins an irresistible chorus out of the blue, between speedy verses.
The record also has the usual fare for the metalheads, with big-banger "The Defense." It's an ominous mid-tempo song with lots of bass and rhythm chunk, especially in the middle, where new drummer Brooks Wackerman has space for two-fisted pounding.
This album is good enough for old fans while capable of recruiting new ones. But there's really no hurry. These guys aren't going anywhere.
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Article image(s) added: Hartbeat #10
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Article image(s) added: Metal Hammer February 2002