Bad Religion
The Gray Race


4.5
superb

Review

by !johnbetray~ USER (4 Reviews)
June 22nd, 2006 | 22 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


The opening notes of "The Gray Race" still give me chills. The sound is unlike that of any other Bad Religion cd (probably due to the fact that this is the only Ric Ocasek produced cd). This is one of my all-time favorite albums and is my favorite Bad Religion album. This was the first lp that Bad Religion made without Brett. This is both a plus and a negative. The positive side is that his replacement was none other than Brian Baker, who has an excellent style and some great credentials (Minor Threat" Dag Nasty"). The downside is that Brett Gurewitz's excellent songwriting is nowhere to be found on this album and hence, the lyrics just don't seem as strong in some parts. Greg Graffin still delivers vocally and lyrically by making some of Bad Religion's catchiest, darkest, and most memorable songs (Cease). This is a cd that every Bad Religion fan should at least check out, it's not "Suffer" or "The Empire Strikes First," but it is still an excellent album and something different enough to cause a controversy in the Bad Religion fan circle.

The Players...
Greg Graffin-Vocals
Brian Baker-Guitar
Greg Hetson-Guitar
Jay Bentley-Bass
Bobby Schayer-Drums

Oooozin Aaaahs: Greg Graffin, Brian Baker, Jay Bentley, and Bobby Schayer

One note and I'm immediately hooked. "The Gray Race" kicks off the album with the signature Bad Religion drumbeat and guitar noodling from Hetson and Baker. Greg's voice has a great amount of power and delivers the verse to you with bullet-like precision. Then, the chorus suddenly kicks in, and things change, the guitars shift into something unlike anything Bad Religion has ever done, and Greg's voice hauntingly sings the chorus. Then, after a bridge into an excellent solo, they cut you off, and throw you into the next song.

"Them and Us" is more similar to other works that Bad Religion had done in the past and is more to the regular pace and sound that fans would be accustomed to. Also, the monotone and emotionless intro of "let's go" by Greg is way cool. Then, as the song goes on, another nice little bridge with another great solo comes in, then is followed with one last great chorus. Another excellent song, and it gets better...

"A Walk" is one of the infectious singles of the cd. Lyrically, it's nothing thought-provoking and somewhat juvenile, but it's still fun. "A Walk" has one of the catchiest choruses I've ever heard, I catch myself singing it all the time. Short, fun, catchy, and leading into something truly dark and new.

"Parellel" is unlike anything I've ever heard by Bad Religion. Dark, haunting, and emotionally powerful. The verses are moody, and well delivered. The chorus drags the song down by pushing it back into the "punk" sound. It's also somewhat annoying, but try getting out of your head after hearing it. Then, somewhere near the end of the third verse, Greg delivers his most memorable and signifiant note ever at the end of the line "and try to stay out of each others way." It must be heard to be believed. Although others will disagree, I found it amazing. This is one of the best songs on the album, and a huge departure from Bad Religion's other work.

"Punk Rock Song" is very much like "A Walk" in the fact that they are both extremely catchy and fun songs. The lyrics are better than "A Walk" and the guitar part is one of my favorites. It has a lot of great moments, and it's another fun song.

"Empty Causes" sounds somewhat like something you might find on "Recipe For Hate," yet in a slightly rawer form. Lyrically it's one of the better on the album, and is another catchy song. The guitar part is much less prominent and just flows throughout the song. Excellent.

A heavy guitar part opens up "Nobody Listens" and shifts the cd back into the darker sound of "Parallel" or "The Gray Race." The chorus is better than the one in "Parallel" and the guitar part is more memorable. I think the drum beat is a little too fast in this song and doesn't seem to fit, but maybe that was done on purpose.

"Pity the Dead" comes in next and goes back to the catchier sound of "Empty Causes," but still delivers some of the darker sound on the album. Lyrically it's one of the better songs on the album and has a great chorus. Also, the drum part is much more fitting for the song. This is one of the more forgettable songs on the cd, but is still very good. Great solo too (of course).

"Spirit Shine" is my least favorite song on "The Gray Race." The intro is annoying and leads into a lousy chorus. Lyrically it's nothing to write home about, and the guitar part is lacking. I generally hit the skip button, but it's not a terrible song. However, there is a cool little outro which leads into...

"Streets of America." The longest song on the album, and slow to begin with. The chorus is catchy and keep up the same pace. The guitarwork is great and shows that Brian Baker's inclusion is by no means a bad thing. A nice break from the rapid fire drumming of Bobby Schayer and an overall great song. Watch the video if you get the chance, it's quite terrible.

"Ten in 2010" comes in blazing and is one of the fastest and all-around greatest songs on the cd. The lyrics are well-written and delivered excellently. My favorite solo on the album is on this song. The overall pace and energy of this song are my favorite parts about it. Great song, good luck getting this one out of your head.

"Victory" is nothing amazing. The chorus is the highlight of the song. The rest of the song just feels somewhat generic. A well-written song, just not a musically interesting one. this can be filed in the same pile as "Spirit Shine." Not great, but still not bad.

Another monotone "let's go" opens "Drunk Sincerity." A great riff opens up the song and the vocals are casually sung. The chorus is great and the moral of the song is pretty cool. Another great song. But not as good as the next two songs...

"Come Join Us" is the second best written song on this album. The chorus has some chilling backing vocals and sounds great. The guitar part isn't anything amazing, but it propels the excellent lyrics. Great, plus thought-provoking. Very Cool.

"Cease" is the last track on the album. I couldn't think of any greater way to end an already great cd. A subtle guitar riff opens up the song, then goes into chaotic guitar wizardry from Hetson and Baker. Then, the verse begins, the music slows down to deliver the first lines, then speeds back up. The verse still gives me chills, and is extremely well-written. This song is what established Greg Graffin as a top songwriter to me. The chorus is unforgettable and again, gives me chills. After the second chorus, an insane solo comes in, then fades into just bass and vocals, then again goes back to the normal pace of the verse. One more solo comes in after the next chorus, then Greg finishes the song but never delivers the final "Cease." The music does it for him, and it does it magnificently. A punk rock masterpiece.

Give me feedback on how I did. I'll add more as time goes on.

!johnbetray~


user ratings (371)
Chart.
3.4
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
tom79
June 22nd 2006


3662 Comments


From what i've heard from this it isnt one of their best. Maybe I have to listen to it again it seems. good review.

Digging: Nana Grizol - Love It Love It

Nightside
June 22nd 2006


102 Comments


Great review! I have stranger Than Fiction which is good and I'll check this out to.

metallicaman8
June 22nd 2006


4677 Comments


Good review. The guy on the cover of the album scares me some.

skavid
June 22nd 2006


7 Comments


Awesome band, awesome album, though I still like Suffer more. This is definitely in the top 4-5 Bad Religion albums though. Great review too!

MAthiAS
July 9th 2006


54 Comments


This album's solid. Not their best but there are some great songs. I really like Parallel, Pity the Dead, and 10 in 2010.

The review was pretty good, seems like you need to pull out a thesaurus though. I mean, come on:

Dark, haunting, and emotionally powerful. The verses are powerful and emotional.



!johnbetray~
July 14th 2006


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You've got quite a point there. I was a little scatterbrained when i wrote this. Thanks for pointing that out, I'll fix it.

Two-Headed Boy
September 22nd 2006


4527 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This album is nowhere near a 4.5, though it does have some awesome songs, namely the last two. Good review.

StrizzMatik
July 13th 2007


3697 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I listened to this album about five million times in high school. It has some definite drawbacks - i.e, no Mr. Brett, subpar songs at times - but it was easily the best record BR put out on Atlantic and miles ahead of No Substance and New America even at its worst. "Cease" is probably one of my favorite BR songs ever.

PhoenixRising
July 13th 2007


277 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Cease is good, and parallel is great with the layered vocals, rythem, and lead guitar work.



Agreed on its domination of other Atlantic albums. Some good songs but lacks an edge w/o Guerwitz writing and producing.



descendents1
July 13th 2007


702 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sick overrated! I think STF is better than this.

wexenhex
August 10th 2008


192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this has some of my favorite melodies from BR...

great album! i think BR did just fine on Atlantic!

lackesse
November 28th 2009


41 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was the first BR album i've heard..Now i know All the albums and this one Rocks!!!Love the songs,Greg's songwriting is fabolous.Love this cd



Nitroadict
October 1st 2010


184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is easily the best Bretless BR album. The sound they achieve on this album perfectly

reflects the title, imo (i.e. it's in a grey area of production between over-produced & under-

produced; NS would see the band going far under-produced, & TNA over-produced), and is probably,

aside from Generator, the one I've listened to the most.



They also do things on this album they haven't done since. "Parallel" has epic layered guitar work

going on, & "Spirit Shine" just burns with energy with the drumroll verse into the fast part.

Echoing the review, "Cease" was also a brilliant moment. The chourses are probably their most

memorable (beyond the Holy Trinity) until POB came along.



Then again, I've always been biased towards Graffin in the later Bad Religion albums (I felt Brett

was more effective before his departure right after STF than in their classic/experimental era).

St0nEyM0n
October 1st 2010


3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great CD. Bad review. How could anyone skip "Spirit Shine"...Thats just absurd! The drum beat on Nobody Listens is too fast? WTF! Do you not realise that Bad Religion is a punk band? Jesus Christ.

random
December 4th 2010


2719 Comments


Look, the album cover changed.

Digging: Bright Eyes - Letting Off the Happiness

Sciroccu
December 5th 2010


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic one, one of my fav from BR.

Spirit shine is not a stand out for me either.

Parallels
February 3rd 2012


8858 Comments


I know it sounds weird, but this is my favorite bad religion album right here

Edit: Now it is one of my least favorite albums. Suffer + No Control + Against the Grain + Generator are the true BR albums.

PapyrIsGood
August 23rd 2012


63 Comments


I think this album is kind of underrated. To me, it's nowhere near as memorable as Process of Belief, Stranger than Fiction, Recipe for Hate, etc., but it's still catchy and a pretty good outing considering Mr. Brett had just left the band.

Sciroccu
August 25th 2012


910 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

one of their best, great lyrics all along...

TAZDUHCREATER
July 7th 2013


15 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is probably my favorite bad religion album.



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