Bad Religion - True North
I don't know quite why I volunteered to review the new Bad Religion album, because I knew before I even offered that I would have trouble writing it. I am, after all, a life long BR fan and you don't need much more than a passing knowledge of the band and their legacy to realize you aren't going to be massively surprised by the sound of any new release.
I have no problem at all in settling on a winning formula and sticking to it (after all, Pennywise are one of my all time favourite bands), but you may not be surprised to hear that much of True North is inter-changeable with much of The Dissent Of Man or New Maps Of Hell. And, let's be honest, if you weren't already a fan of the sound this band have pretty much copyright to, you probably aren't even reading this now.
The good news is, this is no disappointment. It's still that crisp, clear, smooth production that the band have stuck with now since The Empire Strikes First a dozen years ago. Of The 16 tracks on offer, I find it curious that the band chose Fuck You as the advance track, which gave me the impression of a band that have lost some interest in their own work. But, thankfully, I find that one of the weaker songs on the album - a pale imitator of melodies from songs on other albums. The title track is very much a throw back to Stranger Than Fiction; the dark sound the band do best. There are some lacklustre moments: Dharma And The Bomb is, by their own high standards, a duff track. But across the record there are some gems - Robin Hood In Reverse (yes, that is the title), Nothing To Dismay and My Head Is Full Of Ghosts are all classic Bad Religion and there is plenty to justify a purchase.
What I do enjoy about Bad Religion is, despite their musical defiance in the face of change, their promotional outlook is very much forward thinking. The last album was offered for free download - this time everything is up for streaming everywhere. So even the most hard up fan of the band can make their own decision on the album via a multitude of platforms. It's a fucking solid record too. No life changer, but a worthy addition.