Album Review: Bad Religion - True North

6 February 2013 | 9:29 am | Daniel Johnson

Bad Religion might not be the most progressive band in the world, but as they’ve proven once again on True North, they’re one of the most consistent.

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Sixteen albums and more than 30 years into their career, the godfathers of melodic So-Cal punk still have plenty of vitriol and an equal amount of energy. This 16-song outing is sonically more stripped back than some of the band's more recent releases, recalling earlier albums such as 1993's Recipe For Hate and Against The Grain (1990). That said, True North contains everything one has come to expect from a Bad Religion album – brisk power chords and sparse solos, Greg Graffin's insightful, socially aware lyrics, three-part vocal-harmony-laden backing vocals (“oozin' ahs”) and the watertight rhythm section of Jay Bentley and drummer Brooks Wackerman.

The titular track, written from the perspective of a child running away from home, instantly packs a lyrical punch (“Unrepentant vagabond/Plot the new co-ordinates and cast the map aside/Now I gotta ramble on/Navigate the pitfalls and cross the great divide”), and sets the scene for what's to follow on the similarly rapid-fire Past Is Dead. The self-explanatory Robin Hood In Reverse – which takes aim at organised religion – is one of the album's most powerful moments, and tracks such as Land Of Endless Greed and Dharma And The Bomb similarly address current world issues. 

There are a couple of surprises herein, including the uncharacteristically slow-burning Hello Cruel World, but by and large the band deliver exactly what their fans expect of them. Bad Religion might not be the most progressive band in the world, but as they've proven once again on True North, they're one of the most consistent.