Bad Religion - True North

Some of the strongest, most focused material that the band have recorded in many years.

Label: Epitaph

Rating: 7

By their sixteenth album, it’s fair to say that SoCal melodic hardcore elder statesmen Bad Religion’s style and themes are pretty well established. That said, after more than thirty years together (barring a couple of extended breaks), ‘True North’ makes a strong attempt to breathe new life into the songwriting partnership of Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz by utilising the tried and tested method of getting back to their roots - in fact, Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge revealed that ‘True North’ was intended to act as a sequel of sorts to 1989 album ‘No Control’. While ‘True North’ doesn’t often hit the heights of that, or even predecessor ‘Suffer’, there’s plenty here to keep fans of the band very happy indeed. A number of songs here (‘Crisis Time’, ‘The Island’ and new single ‘Fuck You’ in particular) could be mistaken as having been recorded in the sessions for either of those landmark records.

Following hints dropped following ‘The Dissent Of Man’, it was questionable whether there would even be another Bad Religion record. It’s easy to believe, listening to them over the last ten years or so, that they had grown tired and were starting to run out of ideas. Their output was becoming increasingly ponderous and the urgency that had characterised much of their finest work was often noticeable by its absence. Yet ‘True North’, with its concise (only one song breaks the three minute barrier) bursts of dissatisfaction and alienation, includes some of the strongest, most focused material that the band have recorded in many years. Whether this renewed vigour can be sustained is yet to be seen but for now Bad Religion can look back at their younger selves and hold their heads up high.