Bad Religion

New Maps of Hell | Epitaph
By BRETT SINGER  |  August 20, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
insidebadreligionnewmapsofh
Early-’80s hardcore roll call: Black Flag? Gone. Minor Threat? Gone. Hüsker Dü? Gone. Bad Religion? Still here, still putting out new music, and still annoyed. Their latest brings founding guitarist and Epitaph honcho Brett Gurewitz back to join former Minor Threat/Dag Nasty/Meatmen punk-guitarist-for-life Brian Baker and long-time Bad Religion guitarist Greg Hetson. Bad Religion have always been on the softer side of hardcore, thanks to those massed vocals and Greg Gaffin’s tendency to sing rather than shout. “New Dark Ages,” with its layered background harmonies, wall-of-sound instrumentation, and quietly propulsive drumming, is a 27-year career in a nutshell. Elsewhere, there’s the old-school SoCal hardcore of “52 seconds” (which is actually 58 seconds), and Gaffin’s impressive vocab (he’s got a PhD, teaches at UCLA, and drops phrases like “supplicate and survive this transubstantiation”). But he comes right back with “Murder” (“If you’re discontent to know your world’s a pile of shit/Listen to a riddle that’ll tickle every bit of it”), ditching the tuneful vocals for a bit of good old-fashioned screaming. Sure, it sounds odd coming from a bunch of fortysomethings rather than some grimy all-ages kids. But if determination = quality, then Bad Religion are one of the best punk bands in the world.
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