Review Summary: Don't Lose Your [Teeth]Age Of Unreason
comes to us at the perfect time for a Bad Religion record. American politics are a confusing, frustrating clusterfuck of screaming, bigotry, violence, soap-opera-esque going-ons, and irony-poisoned bullshit. As the next election draws ever closer, now is the opportune time for punk legends to come back carrying a powerful dissent to the POTUS and his many, many followers. At the same time, it’s hard to say that Bad Religion are in the place to deliver an album as strong as Against The Grain
or even True North
. This new full-length comes 6 years after the group’s last album, the band now lacks the talents of Greg Hetson and Brooks Wackerman, and, realistically, Bad Religion aren’t getting any more youthful or exuberant.
As such, Age Of Unreason
feels a lot more aged and reserved than anything else by the group. It lacks the power and bite that a record with such heavy statements should have. These political themes aren’t forced on the band, mind you, as songs like “End of History,” “Old Regime,” and the title track make bold exclamations of the American government’s corruption and ill actions, but the music just doesn’t back it up. These tracks are just too flimsy to really back up Greg Graffin’s lyrics. Moreover, this album lacks a certain thematic cohesion, which really weakens the message. Songs like “Candidate” and “Big Black Dog” feel defeated and bitter, but tracks like “Lose Your Head” and “What Tomorrow Brings” attempt to be hopeful for the future, with no effort made to progress these ideas into each other. As such, said hope feels unearned and out of place
The music, in terms of pace and energy, is also at odds with itself. Some moments are somewhat belligerent and aggressive (these parts are way too infrequent and far apart), but many others are slow and tired. It’s frustrating because there’s no progression between songs - it feels slapped together with no care where the differently vibed songs fall. Those few sweet melodies and fun riffs hidden here aren’t prevalent enough and you have to get through slogs like “My Sanity” and “Downfall,” which both feature especially obnoxious hooks and bland song structures. Production-wise, this record is flat and shallow, much like the promises of a career politician. The mastering really does suck the life out of the tracks. At the same time, there isn’t much energy to be stolen here, as every song sounds exhausted before the one minute mark.
It sounds like they’re trying, like they want Age Of Unreason
to be the catchy fall of a regime, but it just fails to pan out. Much like the political climate, it feels old, bloated, and dazed, without an idea of what to do next. Bad Religion’s effort, ironically enough, feels like a plastic product - one to be consumed and then tossed into a loaded landfill of burning waste. The fact that there are those moments of actual quality makes it more frustrating, as it really feels like those good ideas are wasted on an ultimately disappointing record that should’ve been more. Of course, Bad Religion didn’t owe
anyone anything, but more could have been done than a third rate melo-hardcore record with so much to say, but not much to chew on. Punk is for the young, I guess...