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BAD RELIGION Age of Unreason gets 7.5/10


Bad Religion

Age of Unreason
Epitaph

7.5/10

Nearly 40 years and sixteen studio albums on, LA punk rock legends Bad Religion decided there was still enough in the world that pissed them off, and more than enough fuel in the tank to aurally slay them on 17th LP Age of Unreason.

While punk rock is often seen as a rebellious defiance of authority, Bad Religion instead showed it was more about questioning and challenging it instead, with reason and intelligence. It’s still rebellious and at times anarchic, but there’s more depth than people expect – killer punk beats with thought provoking lyrics encouraging listeners to open their eyes and think outside the box, not just confirm to the norm of society as an ignorant pleb.

Stylistically, Age of Unreason is Bad Religion through and though. It’s not that much different to their previous releases and there’s no major surprises. Is that a bad thing though? Not at all, why fix what’s not broke. Yeah it’s a little cleaner and there’s plenty of new elements to freshen things up, but it’s still old school rebellious punk. Just what we want, and just what we need with the current status of the world.

Largely politically driven, Age of Unreason shows similarities with 2004’s The Empire Strikes First, both of which were dropped on the heels of major political changes in their US homeland, the latter following the Bush Administration and its invasion of Iraq and the former, the political clusterfuck that has been the Trump Administration.

If you’ve heard any of Bad Religion’s back catalogue, you’ll know what’s in order. Frontman Greg Graffin’s angsty but melodic vocals over rapid crunchy punk rock as they’ve always done. Lyrically referencing contemporary events impacting (and threatening) society and the world as we know it, frontman Graffin spits out meticulously formed verses that hit the subjective bullseye.

Opening with Chaos From Within, the bar for the album is set. Acting as a nice reintroduction to what Bad Religion is all about, the tidy guitar riff and some rapidfire drums, topped with Graffin’s iconic angsty vocals is exactly what you’d expect from the band.

The tempo slows a little following on with the stronger vocal harmonies of My Sanity, then into the more traditional breakneck Do The Paranoid Style. There’s a solid taste of the bands early work, but enough curveballs thrown in to keep you moving and/or thinking.

While Lose Your Head seems a little repetitive and underwhelming on the chorus front, the solid verses are on point. Underwhelming for some but likely to be a catchy singalong for others.

An oozy guitar slide intros the melodic drum driven  End of History before the pace picks up in equally melodic title track Age of Unreason. Mid-tempo Candidate offers an infectious beat and catchy vocals that encourage joining in, topped with a gnarly guitar solo mid track.

Raw punk is on offer with Faces of Grief and that up-tempo punk is maintained in Old Regime. They’re fast, noisy and sounds like mosh pit anarchy is in order. Onwards, the backbeat driven Big Black Dog provides a refreshing changeup to the mix. The funky guitar beat and streamlined vocals will have fingers standing by the repeat button.

Downfall sounds a little closer to a stock rock song, but with a couple of punk touchers in there to bring it into line with the rest of the album. It’s followed by Since Now which offers a little more on the melodic punk side of things.

Aptly titled closer What Tomorrow Brings finishes the album by questioning just that. A fitting end and something of a cliffhanger for what else will come of Bad Religion into the future.

They’re far from their own youth but their topical lyrics are still slicing through the issues of disgruntled youth, and the not so youth, of today. Still fighting the good fight, rebelling against the world for what they feel is right, and that’s something that transcends the generational appeal of fans.

It’s music for a purpose, a direct to vein dose of pure punk rock that’ll open your mind, have you questioning everything around you and challenging the mainstream norm that’s saturates today’s society. Either way, you’ll take something from this album, and it’s going to be punk in motion.

RYAN ELLIS

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