Bad Religion
New Maps of Hell


4.0
excellent

Review

by crystalinedemise USER (5 Reviews)
September 11th, 2007 | 26 replies | 2,390 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bad Religion finds a great middle ground between the BR of the 80's and the BR of the new Millennium.

After almost 3 years of not hearing anything except a vastly underwhelming folk solo effort from Greg Graffin, Bad religion is back with what could very well be called one of their most diverse albums to date. I won't go on extolling the virtues of how Bad Religion has recaptured the sound that they achieved on Suffer and that this album brings the band back to 1988, because that would simply be a falsehood. You can't attain the longevity that Bad Religion has without changing a good deal. We all saw the major changes with the darkness of Generator, the polish on No Substance and the influence of folkier rock most recently on The Empire Strikes First. Really, it would simply be irresponsible of them as a band to discount the entire evolutionary process and go back to the completely stripped down tones of the late 80's, as amazing as those were. Also, the band members are like 40 now. Think about it. It'd really just be kind of goofy.

What Bad Religion has done with New Maps of Hell is find a suitable way to pay homage to their hardcore punk days while at the same time keeping all of the desirable elements of the albums they have produced since then. There are still catchy choruses jam packed with "oozin ahs", superbly well blended vocal harmonies, vitriolic lyrics, and great use of guitar melodies giving all three of their guitarists a place in the spotlight, but...well... faster. That's the easiest way to sum it up. What has been missing from a good portion of their latest releases has been that speed with which they blasted out their songs. While their overall songwriting has done almost nothing but improve over the last 25+ years, they have been shying away from their hardcore roots for the sake of maturity. Sure there are songs like Supersonic, Can't Stop It, and Sinister Rouge, but the majority of the songs they have put out simply would not have been as pretty and catchy at Suffer tempo.

52 Seconds, the opener of New Maps Of Hell, gives the listener a cue right off the bat that they can expect something different from this album. The track is fast, frantic, and noticeably stripped down from the sound BR fans have grown accustomed to. Heroes and Martyrs, the next track, is a build from its predecessor, feeling slightly cleaner with more complicated vocal lines, but without losing any of the energy built up by the intro. Germs of Perfection gets a little stronger than the previous tracks, adding more harmonies as well as guitar melodies and dynamic changes, but still keeping the energy alive. Before the band members' respective limbs fall off, New Dark Ages kicks in, dropping the energy back and reminding the listener of some of the tracks off of [i]Empre...[/b]. Requiem For Dissent feels like a song that would be great live, with rhythmic shout choruses, while Before You Die, with its swingy rhythms and simplistic melodies is guaranteed to get stuck in anybody's head for days. Honest Goodbye, the first single released from the album, is the first track that may take some getting used to (as was certainly the case for me). It utilizes the slower yet more thoughtful and evocative songwriting as seen in Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever, another track from Empire.... Still, the brevity of the song is its saving grace, allowing the song to stay fresh and pretty to listen to without stagnating from a lack of going anywhere dynamically. I could continue to go on a track by track analysis, but I'm sure you're starting to get the picture here.

As for shortcomings, this album is not without them. The track Murder felt almost too contrived as it is easily the most SoCal hardcore song on the album. Perhaps if it had been placed at the beginning of the album instead of over halfway through, I would have appreciated it more, but given that it feels like the album is continuously building upon itself throughout, the abrupt drop in the tone and writing of the song simply feels out of place. Fields of Mars suffers from "sweeping conclusion syndrome", where it simply feels like the band is trying to offer an epic conclusion, but rather than utilize all of the elements they have been building on, they tacked on a song that feels like a Grey Race B-Side.

In short, if you are a fan of the direction Bad Religion has been heading the last 7 years or so (basically anything they did after the travesty that was The New America), this album is not going to disappoint you. It still feels like a Bad Religion album. They bring in few new elements per se, but rather get a broad scope of their previous sounds and styles compressed into each song. You will not be shocked by anything that they pull out of their sleeves in this album, only by how seamlessly they blend it together to make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.


user ratings (377)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
memnochsxs (4)
Bad Relgion still has it, even for a weathered crew. New Maps of Hell is sure to please....

Nick Greer EMERITUS (2)
Bad Religion keeps on keeping on, with mediocre results....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 11th 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Good review... I'm glad to see a positive review for this album that isn't bad

I saw them play "New Dark Ages" last night on Conan O'Brian... the sound sucked and Mr. Brett opted not to be there for some reason... but it's cool to see them play no matter what.

Oh, and The New America wasn't a travesty at all... it's actually my favorite BR album without Mr. Brett.

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

Intransit
September 11th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Brett only plays dates in California with them. I need to find that video since I was totally otherwise occupied last night when it came on.

Good review.

The New America was horrendous.

StrizzMatik
September 11th 2007



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^^ True that, New America had like three good songs on it. This album kicks ass though.

Digging: United Nations - The Next Four Years

CoRpSeSlAyEr
September 11th 2007



855 Comments


Is this better than Stranger Than Fiction or worse?

Willie
Moderator
September 11th 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Way better then Stranger than Fiction...

As for New America... it's not great by any means, it's just my favorite of the ones without Brett.This Message Edited On 09.11.07

Intransit
September 11th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Stranger than Fiction is fucking awesome, you are quite obviously handicapped.

CoRpSeSlAyEr
September 11th 2007



855 Comments


That's why i was wondering if this was any better than STF. I loved STF too, but i havn't checked out any of there newer suff at all.

Willie
Moderator
September 12th 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Stranger than Fiction is ****ing awesome, you are quite obviously handicapped
and their new one is even better... that doesn't make Stranger then Fiction any less awesome then it was... how hard is that to understand?This Message Edited On 09.11.07

StrizzMatik
September 12th 2007



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

STF is more or less middle of the pack for BR albums. The mix on it is horrendous and musically it's kinda boring at times, although it does contain IMO Brett's best lyrics for BR to date. Their last three albums (including this one) as well as No Control, ATG, and Generator are better overall.

Intransit
September 12th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Oh, I thought you meant better than The New America. I was about to buttfuck you with a dorito bag or something.

Against the Grain has good songs, but a good deal of them are kinda boring.

StrizzMatik
September 12th 2007



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah I'll agree that there's some definite filler on there, but it's balanced out with arguably the best batch of songs on an album BR has written yet (ATG, Modern Man, Anesthesia, 21st Century, Walk Away, Flat Earth Society, God Song, etc.). If they had cut it down by 3-4 songs it would have been flawless, but I'd definitely place it in BR's top three without a problem. My faves are No Control and Generator though.

descendents1
September 12th 2007



702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i dont think this is so good : (


Against the Grain has good songs, but a good deal of them are kinda boring.

lolololwtf

well, i'll agree that near the end of the album, i get pretty bored cuz the beginning of the album is solidThis Message Edited On 09.12.07

Intransit
September 12th 2007



2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

hahahah I just noticed that Unacceptable and Quality or Quantity start out sounding almost exactly similar. Faith Alone is really weak too. Anesthesia, ATG, and Entropy are the best on here though. That chorus in Entropy is just unreal, especially when it slows down into half time.

PhoenixRising
September 12th 2007



277 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good album. I'd put this in their top 5 yet still miles from their top three (Against the Grain, Suffer, Nocontrol) if that makes any sense.

As bad as New America was i think No Substance has to take the cake as the worst BR album. That thing was just an emberrasment...

Willie
Moderator
September 12th 2007



15875 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

As bad as New America was i think No Substance has to take the cake as the worst BR album. That thing was just an emberrasment...
Yes, No Substance is an album that really lived up to its name.

StrizzMatik
September 12th 2007



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Faith Alone is really weak too


Funk dat! That's one of my favorite slow BR songs. I love the intro's chord progression, it's got like a sepulchural, "churchy" sound to it that fits the subject matter really well. It's like "Sanity", only a lot better. And the lyrics are all sorts of awesome.

descendents1
September 12th 2007



702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Agree. Faith Alone kicks major behind.

StrizzMatik
September 12th 2007



3175 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

And the worst BR album is Into The Unknown btw. No Substance may as well be No Control compared to the abortion of ITU.

descendents1
September 12th 2007



702 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think Into the Unknown is an unfair comparison, it's that bad. But hey, they were just experimenting.

PhoenixRising
September 12th 2007



277 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm refusing to admit that ITU exists. ;)



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