Not to sound too prog about it, but, within the tiny confines of the melodic punk genre they chiefly created, Bad Religions new CD finds the band, yes, subtly stretching musical borders and further expanding on the styles required constituent parts. Its real professional stuff, you knew it would be, and it delivers just about 100 percent immediate gratification. Which is to say, no band on Earth has a sharper gift for giving the kids what they want while prodding them to open their ears a bit.
A classic B.R. set (uh, classic in the true-to-form sense) of mostly way-hyper trouncings through 14 righteous little rants, The Process of Belief benefits from our crusty veterans wealth of hard-earned wisdom n experience; these are almost too-perfect punk equations. Thats almost because, while opener Supersonic sets the tone with a lotta standard-issue amphetamine bounce and sweaty forward propulsion, etc., with Greg Graffin punching out I want life its exciting! and the band really making you feel that, if youre listening (entirely possible with these songs) youre gonna pick up on a few new items tossed into the pot. The supersocko drumming that locomotive pogo/slam speed-bump realized and refined right here in sunny Southern California hashed over throughout by Brooks Wackerman is totally, totally, totally excellent, so wicked that B.R. indeed decided to go with identical beats for about 80 percent of the rekkid. But this is hardcore, so thats not a knock, just to mention that the form has become something a tad holy you cant deviate so much that youre gonna come off too arty or technical; why, the kidsd think you were pretentious, a wanker!
So what B.R. brings are ways to magnify the hardcore forms musical content while displaying some truly supreme economy (aint one wasted note on the entire damn album). Especially on the electric ballad (faster, though) Broken, the initially reggaefied Sorrow and the Tull-ish (no kiddin) Epiphany you get tasty doses of what this band is never credited with, which is smart vocal harmonies and shrewd and surprising and mood-enhancing chord shifts; credit Brett Gurewitz and Graffin for actually knowing how to construct musically logical bridges and choruses. And Graffin, not often cited for it, has real vocal skills, with a pleasing register/grain and seemingly uninfected by overt Valley duderino. If youre not farsighted yet, check out Graffins lyrics in the confusingly elaborate CD booklet. You will maybe discover that hes got a fine way of preachifying without coming off too stridently correct about things, even putting out a rather avuncular vibe in his diatribes.
Bad Religion is about feeling helpless (Destined for Nothing: No destiny for you and me no few-chaah) or cheated and boiling, but picking yourself up and doing something, anything, about it. Whether or not the band is, yknow, too old to be carrying on like this is moot when evidently zillions of kids dont have a problem with that. More interesting is how many of these extremely well-crafted new tunes would hold up well in different musical settings. For Gurewitz and Graffin, therell be plenty of life after hardcore.