This may be the shortest review I’ve ever written, which seems quite fitting considering the average Bad Religion song couldn’t be further from the 20 minute epic style of music. Simply put, this is a Bad Religion album. It sounds pretty much exactly like you’d expect a Bad Religion album to sound. Lucky then that Bad Religion are still one of the best punk bands on the planet.
Starting off in blistering form with the title track, True North immediately lays out what you’re going to be getting over the next 36 minutes in the form of 16 blistering songs. Lets pretend you’ve never heard Bad Religion before though. What’s on offer here is a collection of 2-3 minute songs with all the hallmarks of proper punk – none of your pop tinged Fall Out Boy/Blink 182 style bollocks here; this is political, philosophical, anti-establishment, socially aware music.
Bad Religion have about 3 settings. There’s fast, scorchingly fast, and then super slow. All three forms are on True North with some great (but short) solos, cracking drumming, and as ever Greg Graffin’s gruff vocal. There’s one magical little deviation from the formula though on “Dharma and the Bomb” which is a total surfer rock throwback and features guitarist Brett Gurewitz on vocals. It comes out of nowhere and is sadly gone almost as quickly as it arrives. It a really cool tune.
It’s followed by the longest and slowest track on the album, “Hello Cruel World” which I suspect is only there to give drummer Brooks Wackerman a break from the storming pace he sets throughout. As ever I find it to be a fairly unnecessary addition to the album as I often do find the slow ones. For me Bad Religion are at their best when they are firing on all cylinders as quickly as possible. Lucky then that the tempo does not relent for the rest of the record. Hell, the very next track clocks in at a measly 1:01!
You know what you’re getting with a bad Bad Religion album, yet it’s still fresh and exciting even though they’ve been going for over 30 years now. Here’s to 30 more.