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.
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.