x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Bad Religion returns to roots in True North

The veterans of melodic hardcore barely pause for breath in their latest album, filled with fiery rhythm-guitar-led assaults.

Bad Religion
True North
Epitaph
****

Sometimes described as the Lennon and McCartney of punk, Bad Religion's Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz have billed True North as a return to their original mission statement, and so it is. Its fleeting, flab-free songs join the dots between The Ramones, Black Flag and Green Day, and Graffin's miffed humanist lyrics continue to rail against anti-intellectualism and all kinds of injustice.

Land of Endless Greed and Nothing to Dismay are both prime examples of the band's fiery rhythm-guitar-led assaults, and three-part vocal harmonies sweeten the pill. The record's guitar solos sting like the jabs of a prizefighter, and, 16 studio albums in, these Los Angeles-formed veterans of melodic hard-core barely pause for breath.

The nod to Sham 69's 1978 UK hit If the Kids are United on Robin Hood is a nice touch, and the seize-the-day sentiments of Past is Dead sound suitably urgent thanks to a pummelling, super-taut groove.

Though Grafffin - now a 48-year-old with a doctorate in zoology who has taught at University of California, Los Angeles - can't reasonably claim to represent the 'alienated yoof' Bad Religion still target, much of True North impresses.