Bad Religion
No Substance


2.0
poor

Review

by mitch91 USER (12 Reviews)
August 2nd, 2009 | 29 replies


Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The second album without Gurewitz, and it tells. Lacks any kind of spark and sits as one of Bad Religion's worst releases.

No Substance

Bad Religion
Greg Graffin – Vocals
Greg Hetson - Guitar
Brian Baker – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jay Bentley – Bass, Backing Vocals
Bobby Schayer – Drums


Line-up changes are part and parcel of most bands’ careers. More often than not the band will manage to continue, albeit with a small change in sound, direction or style. But what if the departing member was both one of the bands founding elements and it’s joint songwriter" This was the problem faced by Bad Religion after guitarist/songwriter Brett Gurewitz left the band in 1994 before the release of 8th album Stranger Than Fiction. Brian Baker joined the band as the second guitarist and Greg Graffin was left as the band’s lone songwriter. The introduction of Baker seemed to temporarily revitalise the band, who released The Grey Race in 1996. Graffin managed to do an adequate job at filling the Gurewitz-shaped hole and their sound developed, most notably the addition of some great solos from Baker. Unfortunately this new lease of life didn’t last long; the two following releases (No Substance & The New America) are two of BR’s weakest.

First impressions of No Substance are fairly poor. The horribly vulgar album art and somewhat apt/ironic title suggest that the band couldn’t really be bothered, and the music doesn’t do much in contradiction. The album gets off to something of a false start however with “Hear It”: it’s actually a very good song. Kicking the album off in a similar fashion to “Sinister Rouge” (without the Goth choir); it’s fast, aggressive and doesn’t pull any lyrical punches. But unfortunately “Hear It” is the exception not the rule; next track “Shades of Truth” is a much better analogy for the album as a whole. It lacks almost everything that made BR so brilliant on ‘the holy trinity’ of albums: energy in song writing and delivery, the speed and ferocity of the instrumentation and the full commitment of the band. The problem with the song and the album as a whole is not only are they too long and too slow, but just mediocre. Suffer and No Control both featured 15 tracks and clocked in at under half an hour, whereas No Substance’s 16 tracks take over 40 minutes. This wouldn’t matter if the songs were good though, as BR have proved that they can manage slower, more rock-orientated songs (Infected, To Another Abyss). But what we end up with is the sound of an old band going through the motions, some (at the time) would even say on it’s death bed.

The departure of Gurewitz has clearly had an impact on the band, the main issue being Graffin’s quality control. Before he would have written seven songs and Gurewitz would have also contributed some, meaning both were under less pressure. This time around Graffin seems to have used all of his good songs up on the previous album, resulting in No Substance’s total lack of quality. Some tracks show signs of life (the quite good “All Fantastic Images”) and others are decent in parts (the verses of “At the Mercy of Imbeciles” for instance), but most just lack that ‘special something’ to push them on.


Among BR fans there seems to be a common belief that any weak release would still be a decent release by anyone else’s standards. To some extent this is true, but if you have any knowledge of post Suffer BR, or are a fan of anything good within the punk spectrum, this album’s weakness becomes immediately apparent. The ‘oozin aahs’, for which the band is famed, seem to lack passion and impact in comparison to other albums and the overall produced just seems lifeless. On any scale, be it BR, punk or rock in general, this is a poor LP.

No Substance is a lot of things: proof that Greg Graffin isn’t a one man song writing machine; proof of Brett Gurewitz’s influence and proof that the band needed a shot in the arm if it was to continue to keep up the high standards set previously. But ultimately it’s what the album isn’t that’s the problem: a good collection of songs



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user ratings (277)
Chart.
2.5
average


Comments:Add a Comment 
mitch91
August 2nd 2009


420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Comments welcome.

Masochist
August 2nd 2009


8747 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

FA FA FAFA

FA FA FAFA

RAISE YOUR VOICE



Never heard this entire album, actually. Have heard a few songs from it (I remember "Hear It" from the Crazy Taxi), but overall, I have never been interested in it. Which is saying a lot, since I adore Bad Religion.



Review was well written. Good stuff.

WatchItExplode
August 2nd 2009


4996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sure it's a weak release, Strange Denial still kicks ass though. Some other standouts as well, just too mid-tempo. Good review.

mitch91
August 2nd 2009


420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I adore Bad Religion too, but this is tripe.



Cheers for the kind words guys!

Aids
August 2nd 2009


24410 Comments


I'm surprised you didn't use the title to make fun of the album. It's just asking for it.

mitch91
August 3rd 2009


420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Well I said 'apt/ironic', but i just thought it was too easy a target.

Willie
Moderator
August 3rd 2009


17302 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Unfortunately this new lease of life didn’t last long; the two following releases (No Substance & The New America) are two of BR’s weakest.
I actually liked The New America. If they were going to totally move away from simple punk songs then they might as well shoot for catchy pop rock and it works. This album is bad though.

Digging: Adimiron - Et Liber Eris

lackesse
November 28th 2009


41 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

It's very mid-tempo,but what the hell.Great melodies,fine rock-songs.recommended:Hear it,Shades of truth,in so many ways...

drasticaction74
January 25th 2010


1847 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

sowing the seeds of utopia is naughty

JayVex
August 18th 2010


385 Comments


Couple of good ones on here. Overall their worst album though, bar Into The Unknown...

Album title is surprisingly accurate ;)

StrizzMatik
September 20th 2010


3631 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Horrible album with a handful of decent tracks. I dig on Strange Denial and In So Many Ways quite a bit though.

Digging: Glassjaw - Material Control

StrizzMatik
September 20th 2010


3631 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Horrible album with a handful of decent tracks. I dig on Strange Denial and In So Many Ways quite a bit though.

WatchItExplode
September 20th 2010


4996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

This album is lulz but Strange Denial is one of my favs period...always count on strizz to weigh in on BR stuff

Satellite
September 20th 2010


25656 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This album is just bad.

Digging: Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor's Guide To Earth

WatchItExplode
September 20th 2010


4996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

FA FA FAFA FA FA FAFA RAAAAAISE YOURRRRRR VOOOOICE!

mitch91
September 20th 2010


420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

The only one I like it Hear It (as I mentioned in the review) cos it actually has some balls.

Nitroadict
September 28th 2010


156 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Don't really understand the distaste surrounding this album, especially after what Todd Rundgren did to BR on The New America was considerably worse (I Love My Computer = more offensive than this entire album).



The sound the band achieves on this album is also pretty unique (their most underproduced & raw since Suffer), & a few songs hint at the 'epic' sound they became more capable of Process of Belief and onwards (In So Many Ways, Shades of Truth, Vorcacious March of Godliness, All Fantastic Images & Strange Denial) .

StrizzMatik
September 28th 2010


3631 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Except the songwriting fucking blows throughout. TNA was bad too but it had a couple of standard/good BR songs that more or less made it listenable. This is just sloooooooow and midtempo with no hooks or catchy songwriting to support it.



I actually like all of those songs the most btw

WatchItExplode
September 28th 2010


4996 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

people need to stop raggin' on I love My Computer or I'm gonna rage

StrizzMatik
September 28th 2010


3631 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Well it's a bad, bad song. The fuck do you want from my life?



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