Album Review :: Bad Religion – The Dissent Of Man

Bad Religion have been kicking some major dick for the past 30 years and with The Dissent Of Man, their 15th full length studio release. I’m hoping the awesome punk rock has not diminished one iota.

It has to be said, if I went off the general consensus of Bad Religion albums, I could probably write this without even listening. The band themselves have not really adapted their sound much from their initial release How Could Hell Be Any Worse, with the same quote on quote 3 chord punk rock, fast paced drums and politically driven vocals release after release. I’m making them sound like they’ve gone stale, trapped making music for a scene that has long since past, but this for some bizarre reason, is not the case.


Bad Religion, in some incredible way, have managed to keep their same sound without it becoming repetitive or un-inventive, and TDOM is no exception. If it ain’t broke don’t fix, right?

From the get go, it’s business as usual. Opener, ‘The Day The Earth Stalled’ is a minute and a half slice of glory, with lyrics that denounce that the band are “looking back”; with opening lines: “Do you remember when? We were young, adventure had no end? Those were the days, my friend. But I’m not talking about that at all.” This is Bad Religion at their best, as much intensity as can be fit into the 1:27 royal rumble of punk rock chaos. The vocal harmonies on the chorus aren’t anything new to old BR fans, but I’ll be damned if they still don’t please me immensely.

The lyrical content has not been put on a back burner for this album.  ‘Won’t Somebody’, a personal favorite, really put this album on a level with the best of Bad Religion as far as word play goes. Lines like: Won’t somebody please come up with something , ‘cuz Jesus just don’t seem to be impartially working” and “Just a moment of bliss amid all of the waste. The despair and oblivion of our precarious race. It’s ours to face now,” shows that the intellectual outspoken views on society the band hold so dear are still prominent in their minds and souls. The first single, ‘The Devil in Stitches’, is no different. Other than being from the slightly more popped up spectrum of the BR scale, which makes it an obvious choice for being the single, it is still a hard hitting sing-a-long anthem with an awesome array of vocal melodies.

The musicality of this album gets a good dose of insanity with the track ‘Meeting of the Minds’ – a song which follows in a similar vein as ‘1,000 More Fools’ from, legendary album, Suffer – has a very raw stripped down sound which, even though the production values of Bad Religion albums have increased a whole lot since 1988. The listener finds themselves transported back to an era where Greg Graffin had a full head of hair and Epitaph was just there to sell Bad Religion records.

If I had to pick a weak track on the album, I guess it would be ‘Cyanide’. It’s my least favourite, but not a weak track in any sense, in fact, it’s pretty good. That’s all I have to say about that!

Throughout the album it is clear that the many years of singing in a band has done nothing but good for the vocal talents of Greg Graffin and the rest of the band. At a number of different points throughout the album a surprising shock of vocalism is injected into the mix, with Graffin pushing the vocal octaves higher than any previous Bad Religion effort.

The album seems to slow in tempo nearer to the end, but the heavy sound is not lost. With the exception of ‘I Won’t Say Anything’, which features an acoustic guitar, its nothing but distortion all the way. The Dissent Of Man is an album that truly does not stop. Oh wait, it just did. Luckily I can just hit play and listen all over again.

Germs Of Perfection :: Switchfoot

Sorrow

When I think Bad Religion, Christian Rock is the last thing that comes to mind. Well the latest band to add to Germs Of Perfection are Switchfoot. I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard of these guys and Christian Rock, generally, sucks.  Regardless, I remained open minded.

The San Diego-based band are apparently known for their rowdiness, but have delivered a slowed-down, more chilled out cover here. Unlike other artists contributing to this record, Switchfoot decided to put their own spin on a more modern Bad Religion song and it turned out really well. ‘Sorrow’ is taken from 2002’s The Process Of Belief – Bad Religion’s 12th studio album. You can listen to Switchfoot’s take on ‘Sorrow’ here.

Germs Of Perfection :: Guttermouth

Pity

Guttermouth, I haven’t heard that name in a while. The last time I listened to those guys I was trying to work out the words to one of their songs. I think it was something about bullets…who knows? Well they’re the latest band to add to this wonderful Bad Religion compilation. These guys have almost been around as long as Brett Gurewitz and co.

For their contribution they’ve gone for one of Bad Religion’s early anthems, ‘Pity’. The original track was on the band’s, 1982 album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse. The same album features, the iconic, ‘We’re Only Gonna Die’ and ‘Fuck Armageddon…This Is Hell’. Check out Guttermouth’s interpretation on a Bad Religion classic here.

Germs Of Perfection :: Cheap Girls

Kerosene

Cheap Girls are the lastest additon to the Germs Of Perfection roster and they don’t dissappoint. The ‘classic rock’ take on Bad Religion’s ‘Kerosene’ is not what I expected from the Michigan-based pop-punkers, but they’ve managed to provide another great, interesting addition to MySpace and Spin Magazine’s tribute album.

‘Kerosene’ is taken from Bad Religion’s eponymous Recipe For Hate album, an album of choice for many of the featured artists on this compilation. I first heard about these fine fellows the other night from Above Them. They’ve released a split with them on All In Vinyl, and you know what, it’s really bloody good. Cheap Girls can definitely consider me a fan.

Be sure to check out their cover on MySpace. You can get their split EP with Above Them right here.

Germs Of Perfection :: The Weakerthans

Sanity

Canada, eh? That’s where the next band to cover Bad Religion hail from. The Weakerthan’s have been compared to bands like Against Me! for their punk rock take on folk music and they’re really bloody good. Yet another band that I’ve heard of, but not heard much by. Then again, that’s what compilations like this are for aren’t they? Well, besides being a fitting tribute to one of the best punk bands going.

The guys have covered ‘Sanity’ from Bad Religion’s fourth album No Control, released in 1989. It’s a chilled out take on the classic song and, again, isn’t something I’d expect on a compilation like this. Be sure to check it out.

Germs Of Perfection :: William Elliot Whitmore

Don’t Pray On Me

We’ve had auto-tuned Danish punk from New Politics, the down tempo, acoustic, stylings of Tegan & Sara and now Bad Religion goes country with William Elliot Whitmore. Whitmore’s soulful, Blues infused, voice, with it’s wonderful Southern twang, may be the best and most interesting song on the album thus far. I’d go as far as saying I love it.

The Iowa-born singer/songwriter has covered ‘Don’t Pray On Me’, originally recorded for Bad Religion’s 1993 album Recipe For Hate. You can check it out here and be sure to check out William Elliot Whitmore on MySpace too.

Germs Of Perfection :: Ted Leo

Much like a certain Mr. Turner, Ted Leo is a punk rock troubadour. The Indiana native has provided a track for MySpace and Spin Magazine’s Bad Religion tribute album and he’s found yet another fan in me. His style is not quite that of Frank or Chuck Ragan, but is definitely working in a similar vein.

Ted has covered ‘Against The Grain’ from Bad Religon’s 1990 album of the same name. That album features tracks like ‘New Age Society’ and the original recording of 21st Century (Digital Boy)’.

You can listen to Ted’s cover here.

Germs Of Perfection :: Riverboat Gamblers

Riverboat Gamblers are one of those bands that I’ve heard a lot about, but never actually listened to. Shame on me I know, but now I have and, I have to say, I’m impressed. Very impressed indeed. The Dallas-based punk outfit’s rowdy, balls to wall sound is a perfect fit for a collection like this. If fast-paced drink-fuelled punk songs are for you, check these guys out.

They’ve covered ‘Heaven Is Falling’ from Bad Religion’s 1992 album Generator, and it’s fantastic. Bad Religion fans must admit, there’s not been a foot put wrong yet on this collection. This track is one of my favorites, let’s hope the streak continues, eh?

You can listen to the track here.

Germs Of Perfection :: New Politics

I’ll be honest with you, I know very little about this band. New Politics are a punk trio from Denmark and, like everyone involved with this wonderful project, heavily influenced by Bad Religion.

They’ve a sound that’s unlike what I’ve heard in a long time. It’s hard punk with a pop-infused edge. How that works, I’ve actually got no idea. It does though, and their take on ‘Generator’ (one of my favorite Bad Religion tracks) is great. It’s got a slight elecro feel too it, but it works well and is definitely worth a listen. The track is taken from Bad Religion’s 1992 album of the same name.

You can listen to the track here.

Germs Of Perfection :: Cobra Skulls Feat. Fat Mike

It goes without saying that Bad Religion had a big influence on punk rock. Scratch that, they had a big influence on music in general. No band were more influenced by them than Cobra Skulls, something that’s evident as soon as you hear one of their tracks. To leave these guys off a Bad Religion tribute album would be criminal.

They’ve brought their A-game with this track and brought in a familiar face to help. Fat Wreck head honcho and NOFX frontman, Fat Mike joins the Skulls to collaborate on this cover of ‘Give You Nothing’ originally featured on their 1998 album Suffer, the title track having already been covered by Tegan & Sara.

You can listen to the new track here.