Way back in high school someone gave me a cassette tape of Bad Religion’s album All Ages. As cliche as it might sound, that tape changed my life more than any other music ever had then or ever would again.
The ferociously fast guitar melodies, the smart lyrics, the barbershop quartet backup vocals. It was so unlike anything else I had heard and I loved it. Obsessively.
Their golden run of Suffer (1988), No Control (1989), Against The Grain (1990) and Generator (1992) is peerless, in my opinion.
Then, after a string of pretty boring major-label albums in the late 90’s, they reinvented themselves in 2002 with The Process Of Belief. One big part of that reinvention was the addition of drummer Brooks Wackerman (what a perfect name for a drummer!) arguably the first time the band had ever had a good drummer. Another big part was the return of founding co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz, who had left to focus on his record label Epitaph Records while Bad Religion flirted with Sony. The Process Of Belief was fresh and really exciting - was Bad Religion back on top form?
Unfortunately, after Process, came another string of mediocre albums. Despite Gurewitz and Graffin being back writing songs together again and Wackerman’s continued presence in the band, Bad Religion fired out three albums that were fine. Not bad. Not Great. Just.. you know… fine. Nothing anyone got excited about. Nothing as bad as their Sony streak, but certainly nothing coming close to their golden streak, either.
Enter 2013’s True North, one of the best Bad Religion albums, period. I’m not sure why it’s come here and now, but I’m damn thankful it’s here. A lot of the songs on True North would have been right at home on Suffer or No Control. They’re short, stripped back and fast as hell. I really can’t stress how taken aback I am by how awesome this record is.
These guys are all over 50 now! I hope I have that much energy in 20 years!
If this isn’t my album of 2013 then holy crap, it’s going to be a good year for music. Play this record to anyone who tries to tell you that punk rock isn’t relevant in 2013!