Bad Religion

Age of Unreason

Epitaph

May 06, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Writing songs during the Trump era must feel like shooting fish in a barrel for Bad Religion. And, in fact, the band's 17th album, its title a play on Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, is as urgent a politically motivated statement as the band has released in years.

Per Bad Religion's style, the band wastes no time in stating its case, opening with the furious recrimination on the current American system, "Chaos From Within." And the blistering tempo doesn't let up until five tracks in, with the poppy, existential "Lose Your Head," which begins with the brilliant line, "I ain't superstitious but hey, do you know a good exorcist?"

Age of Unreason is a mission statement for 2019 from a band that's made a history of mission statements in dire times. Whereas Bad Religion albums of the recent past boasted the same lyrical intelligence, moral high ground, and instrumental punk rock splendor, some of these albums felt like they melded into one another. There was something missing. There was a certain fire, a certain immediacy, and certain urgency of purpose that seemed to have waned a bit with age. Not so with Age of Unreason. It's as if Donald Trump's America has reignited a spark in the veteran band that had remained dormant since at least the latter Bush era.

Listening to Age of Unreason reminds of the 16-year-old sitting with a lyric booklet, singing along to No Control or Recipe for Hate, marveling at the depth of meaning and excess of vocabulary wielded as political punk rock power and purpose. Case in point the opening lyrics to "The Approach": "An apocryphal popular mythology or a civilization in wane. Whatever your assessment is, a paradox remains. There's a moral and intellectual vacuum and you're right to be lookin' askance. Philosophically moribund, revolution hasn't a chance." Bad Religion may not have written a denser set of lyrics rendered in rapid fire since "Henchman" in 1989.

Age of Unreason is extremely topical, referencing alternative facts, children in cages, and, snidely, "the art of the deal." Perhaps most harrowing is "Candidate," with its obvious evocation of Trump in lyrics like, "I salute an empty flag of ancient tribalism, and trust me nobody cares," or "Believers, dupes, and clowns, I want you all to gather 'round, to glorify ignorance and fear. I dispense misinformation to a post-truth generation. My darlings don't shed a tear." From song to song, Trump is all over this album. The demise of democracy is foreshadowed, but Bad Religion is not going down without a fight.

Elsewhere, "Faces of Grief" is all machine-gun vocals, a one-minute five-second explosion, and "My Sanity" echoes the pop strains of an album like 1996's The Gray Race. If there's any qualm about Age of Unreason it's that the album, at 14 songs, is a couple too long. "Big Black Dog" and "Downfall," at tracks 11 and 12, seem a bit staid compared with the rest of Age of Unreason, and cause the album to lose some of the momentum it built in the previous 10 tracks. Things kick back up with the insistent "Since Now" and the hopeful, philosophical "What Tomorrow Brings," which closes the album with the suggestion that we may not be doomed after all. It's a remarkable but believable change of tone from a band that is just as adept at looking toward a brighter future as it is calling out the sins of the present. As they say in "My Sanity," "Sometimes there's no sane reason for optimism." But perhaps sometimes there is. (www.badreligion.com

Author rating: 7.5/10

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evden eve nakliyat
May 6th 2019
7:41am

Evden eve nakliyat http://www.evdeneveuyum.com

Adam
May 8th 2019
10:59am

Bad Religion deliver one of the most musically exciting records in decades (yes, decades).  The lyrics are deep, but also draw largely upon hyperbole and exaggerations.  Either way, this is a fantastic album.