A 30 year-long career for any band or artist is very impressive. Most bands suffer rearrangements in lineups, record deal failures, death and sometimes, just life. For Bad Religion, it’s been most of those things. The agonizing trauma of losing beloved original members while trying to still be accepted by their target audience is one challenge that not many bands have survived.
Bad Religion’s 16th full-length album, “True North”, delivers the band’s most outstanding effort in their 34-year-long career and perhaps the best in over a decade. The theoretical emphasized lyrics melodically sang by vocalist, Greg Graffin are carried smoothly by guitars from Brett Gurewitz, Greg Hetson, and Brian Baker, and rhythmically supported by drummer Brooks Wackerman and bassist Jay Bentley, resulting in organic and honest melodic hardcore punk rock.
The short almost 40-minute 16-song compilation gets a listener going from the beginning with self-titled “True North.” The introduction is short but very thematic with Graffin chanting “keep Searching ‘til the end.” Perhaps one of the album’s most memorable anthems is “Robin Hood in Reverse,” which addresses controversial laws in corporate America that affect human beings with the simple line “corporations are people.” However, lyrically, Bad Religion stays in their comfort zone, targeting the essence of God, corporate greed, and interrupting the status quo. God and natural instinct are debated in “Popular Consensus,” “In their Heart is Right” and “Crisis Time,” which can result in campfire protest songs. And that’s just it, Bad Religion have always been that band well known for thought provoking songs and its still so with songs like “Land of the Endless Greed” and “Dept. of False Hope.” Musically, all songs remain familiar but the album overall has the energy of 1988’s “Suffer” and 1990’s “Against the Grain.” Although, many saw their 2002 “The Process of Belief” as their comeback, “True North” is definitely their reintroduction to their sole punk rock sound that Bad Religion is recognizable for.
At some point in their career Bad Religion was struggling, releasing stale major label efforts that didn’t quite grasp listeners attention or the acceptance of the critics. However, “True North” will make most fans very excited. It’s an impressive effort that adds on to their ever-growing repertoire, proven by the countless of sold out shows not only in their hometown but the world, making punk rock kids celebrate their mark on music history.