Political bashing, diatribes on social responsibility and the signature “oozin’ aahs” of hardcore punk rock – 20+ years on and this still categorizes Bad Religion the best. From the opener True North all the way to Changing Tide, from crooning “I can’t see the rationality/The world’s not my responsibility” to “Every day’s the same routine of endless chores and boring details”, the old-school rockers still have plenty to say on the state of the world.
Unfortunately, it makes for a fairly predictable listening experience, as one track disappears into another with little difference. Hello Cruel World attempts a bit of a change with its beginning riff and beat, taking a more laid-back yet intense approach to the truth-speak. F**k You does show the heights of Bad Religion, and their inability to tie their lyrics with the vocal harmonies without overpowering the listener. And really, who can argue with the song name when “everybody needs a slogan in their pocket or two”?
Make no mistake: That’s about as far as the variety goes on the album. My Head is Full of Ghosts, In Their Hearts is Right and Dharma and the Bomb will feed the urge for killer punk overtures and guitar solos. But even if Bad Religion isn’t looking to innovate, their signature style carries them one last, bombastic time with True North.