Bob Loblaw's Law Blog
new Bad Religion album!
by, 10-01-10 at 08:55 AM (1374 Views)
Well, so much for my promise to blog more.
I wanted to post my first impressions about the new Bad Religion album, The Dissent of Man. It would be fun to check back and see what I initially thought of it. Let's have a go at it.
My first taste of the new album came when Epitaph was streaming "The Devil in Stitches." The truth is, I really wasn't impressed. I thought it was a little goofy. "Resist Stance" started streaming next. It was a lot faster and classic BR, but I was starting to doubt that the new CD was going to be any different than the last 2 records, which I didn't enjoy too much. Later on, the band started streaming the entire album on their Myspace page. It took me a while to check it out, but I finally did. I only gave it a quick listen so not to spoil my usual routine of buying the album on its release date, listening to it on repeat, and categorizing all of the songs from favorite to least favorite.
September 28 finally came, and here I am. My transition from the above prologue to this was sudden and in the form of "The Day That the Earth Stalled." To be honest, my first impression was, "Fuck, another NMOH." The song is decent, but I kind of look at it as a cheap opener designed to satisfy the people that got into BR in the last couple albums who are more accustomed to faster, harder BR. As an aside, not that anything they've done has been faster or harder than Suffer or No Control, but that's a different story. "Only Rain" was next. I was blown away. I wouldn't say it's the best song, but it is a stunning tribute to the Against the Grain years. This song is the same as "The Lie" except doesn't fall flat on its face. "Won't Somebody" was the next new song for me. At first, I wasn't too impressed. It reminded me of "Honest Goodbye," which was a stab at pop rock with off key vocals. This song has since grown on me through listening to it more. It reminds me of if Generator had an arena rock song.
Obviously, I skipped "Resist Stance" up there, but it's because I wanted to group it with my second impression of "Devil in Stitches." I think both songs are pretty solid. Neither is my favorite song, but I think each stands on its own. "Resist Stance" is reminding me more and more of something fast from TESF. "Devil" also reminds me of something slower that could've been on TESF, particularly "Los Angeles is Burning." It's got a really cool guitar riff in it and the lyrics are interesting. This song is a shining example, though, of something that's bothered me with the past two BR albums, and that's the rhyme scheme of certain songs. Too many rhymed lines gets annoying. Bad Religion has been around for 30 years, and this is a rookie mistake. The rhyme scheme is less ABAB or ABAAB or ABACDBDC or whatever and more like AAAAA. There are a few instances of that in the album, and it's one of the things that has kept me from getting into NMOH.
"Pride and the Pallor" and "Wrong Way Kids" are both super catchy songs. Each one has a way of staying incredibly melodic without getting into the cheesey, self-parodying territory that some of the last few albums got into (think the beginning of "Materialist"). I was really worried about that especially for "Wrong Way Kids" with the whoa oh lines. As of right now, both of these songs are my favorites from the album. I'd be very interested to know how I feel about either in the future.
"Meeting of the Minds" is a pretty standard fast song. It perfectly echoes TESF and NMOH. There isn't too much to say about it. "Someone to Believe" also isn't a very noteworthy song. It sounds like "Mediocre Minds" at first, and then Greg hits a brick wall and doesn't know where he's going to go with the vocal melody so he uses the standard melody from most medium tempo songs from the last few albums. These few songs are probably in between TESF and NMOH as far as how much I like them. TESF was a little catchier. NMOH was a little rougher around the edges. These songs are a pretty good mix of those, but a little bland also.
"Avalon" is a stand out track to me. The opening is reminiscent of "Kyoto Now!" and is a pretty good gauge of the rest of the album. Thus, I feel like it would have been a very worthy opening track. Next, is "Cyanide." Hearing the "missin' you is like kissin' cyanide" line, from the lyrics themselves to the way Greg pronounces "cyanide" makes me want to consider ingesting cyanide. The music is very interesting, though. I think this could've been a much stronger track without these particular lyrics. I can't say I'm a huge fan of this song. "Turn Your Back on Me," like many of the songs on this album, is a strong, poppy power rock song. Just like "Avalon" and "Devil in Stitches," this song has me singing along immediately. It has kind of a country twang to it and reminds me of Social Distortion covering a Dwight Yoakam song or something. Very cool song. I don't think it's quite as memorable and some of those others, but it's not a song I would skip.
"Ad Hominem" reminds me a lot of Recipe for Hate musically. I guess lyrically it kind of reminds me of "All Good Soliders." The solo reminds me of "Struck a Nerve"'s solo too. This is BR's token political/religious song. I don't think it's a very strong track and is probably my least favorite. "Where the Fun Is" is kind of the same way. It's not a very powerful track. It sounds like if "21st Century Digital Boy" was done again but on TESF. I think that this song should have been a b-side or extra. It doesn't fit well with the album and just isn't a great song, overall.
Bad Religion is known for their strong ending tracks. Regardless of how bad the album is, the last track is always killer. Look at "In So Many Ways," "Live Again," or "Don't Sell Me Short" for examples. Those are probably the best tracks on their respective albums. Regardless of whether or not the last track is the best, it's always solid and one of the best. "Cease," "Fields of Mars," "Skyscraper," and "Only Entertainment" are great examples of that. Most of these songs are also quick and ultra melodic. "I Won't Say Anything" completely strays from this formula. Yes, it's melodic. But it's also really slow and poppy. Rather than use BR's trademark chainsaw guitars and deep bass, they chose to break out the jangly guitars, play at a medium tempo not far off from "Only Entertainment" and use lots of background melody. The lyrics aren't the best, but I can't imagine a better way of closing out this album.
In summation, this album goes in a lot of different places. It's their 30 year anniversary and they've done a lot of stuff throughout the years. What a great anniversary record. This album is a perfect tribute to everything they've done since first forming. They've got great punk rock songs, great solos, angry lyrics, cynicism, oozin' aahs, melodic pop, hard rock, and their trademark social consciousness. I can't say that this is my favorite album, and I don't know if this will ever crack my top 5, but I will say that I am very pleasantly surprised with the outcome. It's good to know that the band has strayed from becoming a total parody of their self. I still get scared from time to time, but it really seems like this is the record they should've made after TPOB and probably the direction they should have been going since Gray Race.