Review Summary: "The Process of Belief" is Bad Religion's twelfth album. The album is a return to form, a return to Epitaph, and contains the return of Brett Gurewitz. A stronger pop-punk feel with satisfying results.
Bad Religion is usually to blame for directing youth toward the punk rock scene. I remember when I brought home my copy of “Suffer,” with its album art containing a boy on fire with a cross through a cross on the back of his shirt. I was lectured by my parents and forced to return it back to the record store the next day. Of course, this only fueled my desire to listen to punk rock, and I ensured that my copies of “How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” and “Against the Grain” would remain untouched beneath my bed. When I eventually purchased “The Process of Belief,” the cover art was subtle, and easily made its way into my room. Turns out it was too subtle for my friends.
At the time of my purchase, the title track “Sorrow” had been playing consistently on the local radio station KROQ in Los Angeles. My friends, who listened to NOFX, The Adicts, and Clit .45, heard its slow (unacceptable!) melodies and immediately began their criticisms of how “not punk” the new Bad Religion album sounded. I immediately crumbled under their sneering and conservatively replaced “The Process of Belief” in my CD player with “Punk in Drublic.” However, today I realize that the single was not a completely accurate indicator of the entire album. Bad Religion has taken a much more educated approach to condemning a human race that constantly makes the same poor decisions that pervade our society. Though there is an unusually significant pop feel to “The Process of Belief,” it is certainly more punk than my friends could have ever imagined.
Did someone say fast songs and ferocious beats with provocative lyrics? That is usually a staple of Bad Religion, and they bring the quick instruction on the first three songs of the album, “Supersonic,” “Prove It,” and “Can’t Stop It.” The beginning of the album is excellent, as it develops a pace fit for a circle pit. However, the album changes pace too many times. From “Broken” to “Destined for Nothing,” the themes are relatively similar, with social struggle and our futile existence, but the music does not seem as fluid. “Broken” is much slower, feels like a ballad, and addresses different situations, whereas “Destined for Nothing” is angry and focused. Songs like “Materialist” and “Kyoto Now” have decent, catchy music with vocal harmonies, but the lyrics are not nearly as impressive as the rest of Bad Religion’s masterful works.
Although there are a few kinks in the album, there are catchy and relevant tracks that add to the album’s quality. “Sorrow” and “Epiphany” complement one another as slower pop-punk songs that work well as messages of the ignorance of man. The same can be said for “The Defense” and “The Lie,” as they can open ignorant eyes to the world’s madness, if it is not already apparent. The music is not a departure from Bad Religion’s common sound, and Greg Graffin’s vocals have slightly improved with age.
“The Process of Belief” is not Bad Religion at their best, but it is a worthwhile listen and does a suitable job of conveying Graffin’s concerns about the world. I’m the one who now criticizes my friends as they keep their narrow-minded opinions about Bad Religion. They will never concede that Bad Religion can function well as an evolved pop-punk presence, especially now that my mom enjoys the music.
This album is still great even today. I cannot believe that an album where almost everything sounds the same can keep me satisfied. The Lie is the best track off of this. It is the only Bad Religion album I've ever picked up, but I figure that for someone not really into punk rock music, it's enough
If you ever decide that listening to more than 1 Bad Religion album is a good idea, please listen to Against the Grain. Then you'll say "Holy ****in' *** crackers" and pick up Suffer, No Control, and Generator soon after.
I don't know how any real BR fan can give this a 3 considering the three average-to-horrible records preceding it. It's probably one of the best comeback records I can remember of the last decade, and definitely the best of their post-Atlantic material as I find it edges out TESF a bit.
Even if this had come right after Generator or even Against the Grain it still would have been an awesome album. The fact that it came after those shit-Atlantic albums just makes it more of a surprise.
"My friends, who listened to NOFX, The Adicts, and Clit .45, heard its slow (unacceptable!) melodies and immediately began their criticisms of how “not punk” the new Bad Religion album sounded."
It is amazing how many people hate when punk bands decide to slow it down on any given album. I understand that punk is supposed to be played fast (I'm guilty for thinking this way for many, many years), but Bad Religion can release an experimental/electronica album and it will always be considered punk to me.
When I saw them live in San Diego, on back-to-back days, they finished both sets with "Sorrow." That says a lot, no?
I mean, this album doesn't necessarily have their best songs front-to-back, but there isn't one lackluster song on it and it flows better than any album they've done IMO, hence why I agree with Mr. Brett in calling this "the ultimate Bad Religion record". Anyone here check out The BR Page? Best resource for song meanings, bullshit info, fan tributes, even a BR Lexicon for those three-dollar-words =D