Like a steam powered train Bad Religion waltzes over me on True North. The levers are locked and go, full power, no holding back. Yes, like they have been doing for about 30 years. This is the bad news, nothing is going on here that hasn't gone on before, but let that suffice as the bad part. The good part is that the 16 songs on offer on True north are all of outstanding punkrock quality. Leaving all competition behind. True north all but obliterates the latest offering of The Offspring, 'Days go by', while Green Day put itself out of competition with its recent trio of records. No because the songs are bad, because they shoot off in all directions.
True north is as ambitious and in your face as if this is Bad Religion's first album, as if they have the world to prove how good they are. The songs are on average just over the 2.00 minutes, the whole album is under 36.00 minutes and this enough. True north leaves you breathless, as true, great rock albums should. The pace is relentless. Brook Wackerman has a very appropriate name for a drummer in Bad Religion. He is all over the place, wacking a foundation for the rest to play over. Together with bass player Jay Bentley, who takes care of the deep end, Wackerman lays a concrete basis that is extremely tight.
The guitar trio Gurewitz-Baker-Hetson produce a wall of guitar sound that is like a brick wall. Impenetrable, huge, fierce and very punk rock. Greg Graffin only has to deliver his melody and vocals over this all. Thanks to the mix he is very legible. Is there anything to be mad at when you're 48? Yes, there is. Environment, unsustainable economic growth, children today.
If I'm honest and that what I'm supposed to be writing a review, 16 songs is a bit much. The pounding just goes on, song after song. There are a few surprises, like the almost ballad 'Hello cruel world' and the refrain in 'In their hearts they are right'. The tempo changes in a very nice way, to change again within the repeat of the chorus. Very well done. The 16 song "problem" is solved by started the album somewhere in the middle. It's not that the quality of the songs goes down, all but. And then there is 'Robin Hood in reverse'. Need I say more.
There are a few songs that really stick out. The already mentioned 'In their hearts is right', but title song and album opener 'True north' is great. 'Dharma and the bomb' has these great intro, guitar lines, driving, muted rhythm, a chorus to just shout along to. 'Fuck you' has a sixties flavour that is very appealing and a great guitar solo of no more than 10 seconds. Which goes for solo and intros in more songs, short, to the point and beautiful.
For a band that is around since 1979, it is perhaps even surprising to hear so much urgency in the music. The drive to make a point. The restraint to know that this is all the song takes. Even it is 1.01 minutes. This is what we want to say here. Bad Religion shows whole generations of punkrockers the way it should be done. On True North the band finds the balance between urgency and melody in a superb way. Coming up with songs wrapped up in punk(rock) and a load of noise, but songs non the same. True north is great punkrock fun.
You can order True north here