It would have been an unlikely thought in 1983 that Bad Religion would go on to be one of the most influential bands in punk. Having just released the disaster that was ‘Into The Unknown’, a progressive keyboard driven album that shocked many of its fans because of how ‘unpunk it was’ (as compared to their debut a year earlier) or, well, because it was just bad, it wasn’t looking good from the outside. And even after releasing a short, more familiar sounding EP a year later, they went on hiatus soon after. But four years later Bad religion would make one of the most seminal punk albums in ‘Suffer’, spawning a new wave of revival bands. Sitting right in the middle of what fans consider the bands ‘the holy trinity’, No Control can be seen as the band in their prime and a fine example of the band at their best, and essentially melodic punk rock at its finest.
Following in a similar path as Suffer, albeit a little faster, No Control is a straight forward album in the sense that nearly every song is up-tempo, full of energy with a direct message known to the listener. Greg Graffin’s voice is one of the most recognizable in the genre and a a positive aspect on the album. A voice of many ranges and melodies but yet same sounding (in a good way) on many songs, he gives his best performances on I Want to Conquer the World
, Big Bang
and the title track. Complete with the rampant, at times repetitive guitar riffs of Mr. Brett and Hetson, Bentley’s discrete but vital bass lines and Finestone’s rapid drumming you have a base that would become a standard of many punk rock albums and bands to follow and at the same time while taking cues from earlier influences such as California hardcore and first wave UK punk.
No Control wastes no time getting into things with Change of Ideas
, a signature song of the band that captures virtually everything about them all in under a minute. Following a pretty standard formula of a great many punk songs of the fast verses and an even faster chorus and perhaps most importantly abounded with attitude, many other songs on the album would elaborate on it. Repetition is what often sways people away from the majority of the genre’s music but when done properly it can work greatly, case in point: the majority of No Control. Said classics such as You
and Big Bang
have practically identical intros, that a few fierce strums of power chords that will make you think you are hearing the same song twice...that is until you hear the rest, are both obvious standouts on the record. Other highlights include the energy jolting Henchman
, the surprisingly slower and longest song on the album at 2:47 Sanity
, and the classic anthem-like I Want to Conquer the World
(which has exceptional guitar work). And while some songs will fly by without immediate notice with a first listen (showing the great flow of the album), many songs do get better with continual listens.
No Control is not only arguably the quintessential Bad Religion album that any new fan can start with, but for someone new to the genre this can be a great place to start as well. Not overly harsh in production but simultaneously has a raw edge, vocals not hard to get into, great melodies and lyrics (split evenly by Graffin and Gurewitz) laced in politics (though not obnoxiously over the top), problems in society, youth, mental health and other subjects common in punk, it can get many into the genre. But without making Bad Religion sound like the stereotypical punk band, they truly are unique and standout among many of their counterparts, mostly for the better and this album shows why.
Only so much can be said about the album without repeating myself and I feel it is better to keep it somewhat brief than to drag, but to put it simply, No Control is pretty essential within the genre. Yeah the album is relatively short at less than 30 minutes and some songs sound identical with a first (or even second) listen, but these can’t be said as cons. An example of punk at its best No Control is, and not a surprise it influenced so many bands alike.