Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason (Album Review)

Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason
Released: 3rd May 2019

Line Up

Greg Graffin // vocals
Brett Gurewitz // guitar
Brian Baker // guitar
Mike Dimkich // guitar
Jay Bentley // bass
Jamie Miller // drums

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Even if you have a passing interest in punk music, the chances are you have heard of Bad Religion. As individuals and collectively, the band are held in high regard by fans for both their contributions to music and outside the music world. I mean c’mon, Greg Graffin not only has a PhD, and has his work on Evolutionary Biology published, but the man has lectured at several American universities. Since their formation in 1980 the band have been challenging their listeners with music that appeal to their fans humanity, reason and conscience. Age Of Unreason continues these themes, focusing on the current political climate.

Opening with ‘Chaos From Within’ the song pulls no punches in its pace and guitar riffs, exploring the issue of borders and walls with Bad Religion’s signature melody and panache. Slowing things down slightly during ‘My Sanity’, Graffin’s vocals take centre stage, with its backing vocal harmonies, thanks to Gurewitz and Bentley, juxtaposing the song’s pessimistic lyrics. Returning to a more traditional punk song, ‘The Paranoid Style’ let’s loose in its anger and fury, encapsulating what the band truly thinks about the state of the US with the succinct line “It’s a paranoid style in American politics”.

‘The Approach’ continues the overarching ideas explored within the album, in a similar fashion that we have come to know and love from Bad Religion, with a kick ass guitar riff in the middle. Taking things down a bit with ‘Lose Your Head’, the song’s catchy chorus allows for any and all fans to sing along. Beginning with a guitar slide, ‘End of History’ has a driving drum beat and melodies that explore our lasting legacy on the world. ‘The Age of Unreason’ grieves the lack of sensibility, intellect and awareness in today’s age, while ‘Candidate’ a slower tune with a despondent mood, is a direct takedown of US President Donald Trump.

‘Faces of Grief’ ups the ante and gives us a fast and furious song in just over one minute. ‘Old Regime’ continues with more up-tempo punk, exploring the cyclic nature of power and oppression, while ‘Big Black Dog’ starts with a strong, slightly funky guitar riff that continues throughout the song, creating a different dimension within the album. ‘Downfall’ is a conventional rock song with punkish elements, continuing the overall messages of the album. ‘Since When’ follows, a similar song in terms of ideas, but with more melodic punk aspects. The album finishes with ‘What Tomorrow Brings’, that poses questions about our future. A fitting end to the whole album.

Their first release since 2013’s True North, Bad Religion are a band who seem to thrive during political instability, as their voices are ones that have always championed compassion, intellect and logic. Age Of Unreason does this with intelligent, thought provoking lyrics wrapped in well executed and performed punk rock music. Many people think punk music is about defying authority, but Bad Religion show that it’s not about necessarily spurning and mocking the status quo, but about questioning and challenging those in power when required. As Brett Gurewitz explains “The band has always stood for enlightenment values. Today, these values of truth, freedom, equality, tolerance, and science, are in real danger. This record is our response.”

And what a response!

bad religion - age of unreason

Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason tracklisting

1. Chaos From Within
2. My Sanity
3. Do The Paranoid Style
4. The Approach
5. Lose Your Head
6. End of History
7. Age of Unreason
8. Candidate
9. Faces of Grief
10. Old Regime
11. Big Black Dog
12. Downfall
13. Since Now
14. What Tomorrow Brings
15. The Profane Rights of Man (bonus)

Rating: 9/10
Age Of Unreason is out May 3rd via Epitaph Records. Pre-order here
Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos

bad religion band

 

4 Comments on Bad Religion – Age Of Unreason (Album Review)

  1. As a 20 year BR fan, the focus of this album is a direct opposite of what they stood for, and show they are partisan hacks, and tools of the establishment they once fought against. Their line used to sum up the album sounds identical to what the general talking points by the DNC would be. Tolerance? Like leftist protest mobs assulting opposition on a daily basis? Equality? Like being disparaged for being white? Freedom? Like getting assaulted for wearing a MAGA hat? Science? Like telling us…again…that the world will end in 12 years due to climate change? Rationality? Like believing in 60+ genders, and administering reperation plans by disparaging an entire race? They are tools to ignore, and remaining silent, on the ills of the side that they identify with.

    • Someone who isn't a complete fucking moron // May 4, 2019 at 12:20 am // Reply

      If you think this album is the opposite of what they stood for, you have spent the last 20 years being a complete fucking idiot. And you show no signs of stopping any time soon.

    • You’ve been taken for a ride: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Spotlight_fallacy

      Across the spectrum, large majorities oppose most of what you’re spotlighting in your comment. See: https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/KHunHoNd2fckwaRxz/the-forces-of-blandness-and-the-disagreeable-majority

      The study: https://srconstantin.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/cb61e-hidden_tribes_report-2.pdf

      I don’t expect you to read all 160 pages of it, so I linked the article above it which summarizes its findings.

      TDLR: PC attitudes thrive in corporate-culture settings, and this is not the sort of culture that BR has set out to glorify in this (or any previous) album. Nor are corporate-friendly attitudes particularly novel, so it stands to reason that any mention of them is snubbed here by BR just as it was in 2013, 2010, 2007, 2004, 2002, and so on.

      Now, maybe Greg, Brett and co. don’t know about any of this, and actually believe that what you glossed is the conventional view in blue states. From there, you can even conjecture that they themselves support stuff like MAGA-hat-wearers being assaulted without provocation. You are welcome to those speculations, but I highly doubt that’s anywhere close to the truth. Your complaint about their silence (as opposed to their overt backing of said antics, which is non-existent) and how it speaks volumes is predicated on your assuming that they’re unfamiliar with the above stats which show just about everything you’re concerned with is the product of a non-representative sample.

      Despite this, we can say that the band could’ve devoted at least *one* track to said non-representative sample, given that, though nowhere near a relative majority of blue voters, is still not exactly a negligible number. Point is, even with taken into account, your criticism still blows things out of proportion.

      The closest thing to a blind-spot I’m picturing on the part of the band — and I’m mostly thinking Graffin here — is the “12 years” remark that you mentioned. Greg is balls deep into ecological upkeep, so it wouldn’t exactly shock me to find out that he’d go along with something like that.

      Everything else you listed? Mighty big stretch.

    • Anonymous // May 4, 2019 at 6:33 am // Reply

      Nah. They’re spot on.

      Republican America is a hateful, stupid, wilfully-ignorant cesspit.

      Science and rationality FTW

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