Bad Religion
The Dissent of Man


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mark Campbell USER (12 Reviews)
September 22nd, 2010 | 125 replies | 30,010 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Bad Religion combine all of their influences (and some new ones) into a multi-flavored stew sure to piss off some fans and bring in a slew of others.

17 of 17 thought this review was well written

Bad Religion are pretty damn old.

With the exception of 33-year-old drummer Brooks Wackerman, the 80's punk legends collectively known as Bad Religion started when Ronald Reagan was just elected. I mean... damn. After experiencing a late-career creative and popular resurgence with 2002's The Process Of Belief, 2004's The Empire Strikes First and the return of original songwriter/founding member Brett Gurewitz, the band turned out a disappointingly-forced return to their late 80's/early 90's heyday with 2007's New Maps Of Hell. It was uncertain where the band was going to go musically after three albums playing to their typical strengths at being... well, imitating the late 80's/early 90's Bad Religion.

With that said, The Dissent Of Man is thankfully NOT a sequel to New Maps Of Hell. A far more natural, organic follow-up to the experimentation and improved pop sensibilities of TPOB and TESF, the band channels a bit of Springsteen, Tom Petty, and 90's alt. rock alongside their standard trademarked brand of melodic double-time punk. In many ways it's a spiritual brother to the experimentation of 1993's Recipe For Hate with even a bit of their Atlantic Records (the ones BR fans don't speak about) pop-rock songwriting ticks done right. It will unquestionably piss off fans that wanted another No Control or Against The Grain and requires more than one listen to absorb all of the details in the recording before passing judgment.

Greg Graffin turns in what might be his best vocal performance ever on this record, along with penning many of the album's faster songs the overall majority of stellar tracks like "The Day The Earth Stalled", "Avalon", "Meeting Of The Minds", "The Resist Stance" and "Ad Hominem". The influence from his solo work is apparent in songs like "The Pride And Pallor" with its folksy melodies, with only "Someone To Believe" being somewhat bland (and sounding suspiciously like New America cut "Hopeless Housewife"). His iconic vocals take surprisingly accomplished turns in "The Day The Earth Stalled" and "The Resist Stance", boiling over with relentless energy belying his near fifty years of age. His songs unquestionably rule the record on the quality front in comparison to writing partner/co-founder Brett Gurewitz. Aside from the spectacular "Only Rain" - legitimately one of the best songs the band has produced since their heyday - and the great but unintentionally-funny "Wrong Way Kids" (according to Graffin it's Keeeeeds), most of Brett's songs take a more mid-tempo alt-rock vibe with mixed results. "Cyanide" turns out to be a great country-tinged rock song (with leads provided by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers fame) by referencing of all things a Wallflowers riff/song structure to great effect, whereas "I Won't Say Anything" is the most unexpectedly subdued BR album closer yet, but also one of the most delicate songs the band has written yet.

The problem is the album's sequencing: most of Gurewitz's tracks are packed onto the back of the album, front-loading many of the faster, stronger tracks and leaving it feeling a bit uneven once you hit the last three or four songs. Brett-penned "Where The Fun Is"... is most definitely not, sitting with "Turn Your Back On Me" and "Won't Somebody" (also Brett songs) as the three weakest tracks on the album. While they're not bad songs, they tend to highlight BR's uncanny abilities to self-influence and simultaneously throw B-side material on their records. Dude, didn't you re-write "21st Century Digital Boy" like three times already? But there's that EXACT stuttered chord progression again on "Where The Fun Is". The irony that the band needed Brett to get back to making quality music again in the first place isn't lost on me. The lyrics are a bit of a mixed bag. While BR's lyrical forte mainly depends on the listener's political/social proclivities, it doesn't take much to figure out that the lyrics on The Dissent Of Man are quite a bit less confrontational and a lot more direct/simplistic than before, which might take some fans off guard. Bad Religion just need to learn one important thing - QUALITY CONTROL. They could stand to trim the fat from the meat of their dishes - you don't need 15-17 good songs when you have 10-12 legitimately GREAT songs, track lengths be damned.

Thankfully despite any missteps on the record, there's likely a hook, melody or guitar riff that pulls you right back in, wanting more. In particular is how BR have finally started to take advantage of the fact that they have three very accomplished guitarists in the fold. The guitar work is masterful, full of intertwining riffs straight from both the punk and rock playbooks, with lead guitarist Brian Baker turning in his finest performance in the band with ripping lead work on almost every track. Brooks Wackerman provides a tastefully restrained performance on much of the album, with the skill of a veteran and the vigor of his youth with Jay Bentley dutifully keeping the band's jackhammer rhythms tight alongside Greg Hetson's buzzsaw of guitar. Unlike the bland, directionless musical path they went on their late 90's material, BR has gained a confidence - almost a swagger, actually - in pulling off a mid-tempo sound by adding deeper melodic flourishes to their sound as they've matured into elder statesmen of the punk rock alumni. The band has truly never sounded better.

With The Dissent Of Man, Bad Religion are clearly leaving their speedy past and comfort levels on the backburner and forging ahead with a mature and modern punk rock outlook, fusing many more styles of rock successfully into their bag of tricks. The band could have made a quickie follow-up to New Maps Of Hell but went in a completely different, riskier direction that paid off on a bigger scale creatively. To stay in the past is to allow yourself to be ruled by it; Bad Religion are looking to their bright future and the possibility it brings.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
StrizzMatik
September 22nd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Album's streaming on their MySpace, comments, blah

Irving
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2010



7163 Comments


Great review - very well-written and perfectly detailed.

lobby
September 22nd 2010



1251 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

disappointed to hear that its not more like New Maps Of Hell

StrizzMatik
September 22nd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's better tbh

Willie
Moderator
September 22nd 2010



15900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

Great review. I'm not going to write one anymore…

I'm listening to the album for the first time right now, and I'm only two songs in… so far, so good.

Eclectic
September 22nd 2010



3302 Comments


This looks so good.

Kiran
Emeritus
September 22nd 2010



6001 Comments


you don't need 15-17 good songs when you have 10-12 legitimately GREAT songs, song lengths be damned.

that's something that's always bothered me about a lot of bad religion albums

this looks good though, great review, first time in a while i've been excited about a bad religion release before listening to it

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

WatchItExplode
September 22nd 2010



3217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Strizz you get a pos for the first line alone...

Stoked for this, sounds like it will be right up my alley, NMOH was weak

StrizzMatik
September 22nd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm really loving it. "Avalon" might be the best song Greg has written in years - same goes for Brett and "Only Rain".

JayVex
September 22nd 2010



383 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

DO WANT

Digging: The Riverboat Gamblers - To the Confusion of Our Enemies

FelixCulpa
September 22nd 2010



1237 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review Strizz. Totally agree on with you on quality control. Can't wait til' I get my copy.

And also i think they should have used the acoustic version of "Wont somebody". When listening to that version I just feel as it got more energy than this version.

StrizzMatik
September 22nd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really don't emphasize enough in the review: the guitars on this album are fucking nuts. Mike Campbell from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers plays the lead on "Cyanide" btw

Satellite
September 22nd 2010



20726 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review Strizz. I'm thinking this will be a grower.

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

StrizzMatik
September 22nd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks for the compliments dudes.

westcoastweasel
September 22nd 2010



3 Comments


I signed up just so I could comment and say from one writer to another -- this review's pure fucking gold. Not only do I agree with nearly everything written, it's done well and acts as something challenging for my future written pursuits (including my upcoming Dissent of Man take). Great job.

Steve

http://www.westcoastweasel.com

StrizzMatik
September 23rd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Come on people, listen to this! I think this is my best review so far.

deathofasalesman
September 23rd 2010



5821 Comments


Read this last night, very well written dude. And the stream sounds great, I might just get this.

thenewnormal
September 23rd 2010



63 Comments


seriously, that review was great dude.
Avalan is my favourite at the moment; the production is great and you're totally right about sequencing. this band keeps getting better for me.
again, great job

StrizzMatik
September 23rd 2010



3183 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I know there's more BR fans on sputnik... so where the fuck are they?

Willie
Moderator
September 23rd 2010



15900 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4

It was time...



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