Bad Religion - Age Of Unreason (Album Review)
Thirty-nine years is a long time. Formed in Los Angeles in 1980, Bad Religion have released several politically charged studio albums and have seen the changing of Six United States Presidents, the end of the Cold War and The Great Recession. Age Of Unreason arrives at a time when a poignant criticism of our current political climate is long overdue, and who better to deliver that much needed message to the youth of today? The real question here is whether or not the legends of the skate punk scene still have what it takes to get people to notice and try and take a stand.
Outrage isn’t handled quite the same way today as it was when Bad Religion first started fighting for a change. With distractions coming from everywhere in an age of streaming and readily available digital content, bands really have to work hard to push a message that is all too often quickly forgotten. With album number seventeen under the bands belt they attempt to do just that. Ranging from religion to politics to general understanding, the message Greg Graffin and the boys are attempting to send is overall very positive and welcome.
Age Of Unreason arrives at a time when a poignant criticism of our current political climate is long overdue, and who better to deliver that much needed message to the youth of today?
From the very first track, “Chaos From Within”, the formula is present. One thing you can always count on from Bad Religion is that you know exactly what you are going to get. Remaining mostly unchanged sonically since the beginning, the band knows exactly how to produce solid skate punk anthems. Greg’s almost theatrical voice is just as good as you remember from albums past. When other punk frontmen have aged and you can hear it in their voices, Greg has remained very consistent. One singer that comes to mind is Milo Aukerman of The Descendents. While he doesn't sound bad by any means, you can absolutely hear his age in his voice. The same cannot be said for Greg Graffin. The rest of the band follow suit as they always have, and that is one of the minor gripes that I have with Bad Religion in general. While reliability is never a bad thing, I would have liked to see them take more chances.
One track that stands out to me as a bit of a change in direction is “Lose Your Head” which has a much more 80's rock feel. Almost as if The Gaslight Anthem if they had emerged two decades before. When it comes to old dogs learning new tricks, this track is especially refreshing. “Downfall” also follows along this vein. While it has a different, almost Southern Rock feel to it, the song is still very decidedly “Bad Religion”.
I got my start in the scene around the same time as bands such as NOFX were making compilations to rock against Bush. Those times were exciting to a young man growing up in a time where terrorism was an often used buzzword and the world was basically crumbling to the ground. It created a movement in which we could all belong with a common and very visual villain. Bad Religion were one of the main stalwarts of that time in American history and it wouldn’t have been the same without them. Times change though, and in an era where the rock band is aging to a point of stagnation and gaining attention is increasingly harder without a ‘lil’ in front of your name, bands need to do more to stand out. While I appreciate what Bad Religion are saying and I, for one, believe their message is good and honorable, unless they adjust to the times it is going to be hard to get the kids to pay attention. Age Of Unreason is a good album, but to enact real change it would have had to have been a polarizing album, not more of the same. Following the status quo isn’t going to lead the charge, but then again, is anyone even willing to listen?
Age of Unreason is available NOW on streaming platforms, and is available for purchase HERE.
Bad Religion is currently heading a European Tour, dates and tickets are available HERE.