Photographer: Stuart Blythe
Review: Lana Harris
|It’s too easy to gloss over the name Bad Religion, tossing it quickly into the punk rock basket without thinking about semantics. Maybe it’s because the band has been around since forever (well, 1979) their name synonymous with punk and early influences and just ‘there’. But Bad Religion’s latest offering, The Dissent of Man, has a hard-to-miss lyrical focus on biblical styled topics across several of the tracks.
There are references to judgement day, evil, famine and plague (‘Only Rain’), Jesus and his impartial workings (‘Won’t Somebody’) and angels, devils and hallelujah (‘The Devil in Stiches’). These Christian references are the band’s way of exploring concepts
of freedom or the lack thereof, religion being a convenient metaphor when describing struggles around emancipation. Apart from the religion-as-oppressor imagery, the band’s lyrics have plenty of references to truth, lies and other social conventions which no decent punk rock act’s repertoire should be without.
The first few tracks on The Dissent of Man are stock Bad Religion songs, punk and energetic and immediately displaying the quality and technical skills that have seen the band last as long as they have. Opener ‘The Day that the Earth Stalled’ powers relentlessly along before bursting into a strong finish. ‘Only Rain’ moves fast with a strong chorus hook and ‘The Resist Stance’ lets loose in a blast of epic riffage. It is easily the catchiest song on the album. The tempo then drops a couple of notches with ‘Won’t Somebody’ and ‘The Devil in Stitches’ (first single). These tracks are quite melodic, a bit slower and more on the rock side of punk rock. ‘Pride and the Pallor’ introduces another wave of fast moving guitars that lasts for five powerful and compact songs before the speed is arrested with ‘Cyanide’. ‘Cyanide’ is melodic, a poppy anomaly only lightly tinged with rock and with a chorus line of ‘missing you is like kissing…’ inciting a bout of heavy cringing until the final word ‘cyanide’, which saves the line.
A lighter pace and sound continues for the rest of the album. ‘Where the Fun Is’ is the album’s nadir, disappointingly lacklustre considering its title. All the later tracks seem to be experiments in expanding what is traditionally considered the Bad Religion sound. This was an unexpected turn, but the songs do demonstrate the strength of Bad Religion as a band. All tracks on The Dissent of Man, regardless of style, are well executed. The only faults that can be placed on the songs are in regards to the personal preferences as a listener and expectations of Bad Religion as a band, and nothing to do with playing or song crafting abilities. The Dissent of Man has some new elements and some old, but all of the tracks demonstrate Bad Religion is a band who knows how to play.
More articles by Lana Harris:
* Weezer “Hurley” – LP Review
* Soilwork “The Panic Broadcast” – LP Review
* Danza Contemporanea De Cuba @ The Playhouse (Brisbane Festival), 15th September 2010 – Live Review
* Polarity @ The Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane 13th September 2010 – Live Review
* Betrayal @ The Cremorne Theatre, Brisbane 10th September 2010 – Live Review
* Crow “Arcane” – LP Review
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