Underworld, London, UK - 21/5
The Process Of Belief
Written by: PP on 24/03/2009 20:27:02
Why is "The Process Of Belief" the greatest punk rock album of the past decade? That's one hell of a mission for the reviewer, and I frankly don't know if I'm able to give the album enough justice, because it's not like it's a close call at all. NOFX, Pennywise, Hot Water Music, Alkaline Trio, Dillinger Fours have all shown how to write amazing punk rock, but none of them have quite done it like Bad Religion. For all that matters, you could say Bad Religion's latest three albums could consist of the top3 punk rock albums this decade if you argued them correctly. That's just how good these guys have been, and since "The Process Of Belief" is the best of them... well... that's fucking hard, I tell you.
With zero bad songs and zero bad riffs, it's hard to start criticizing the album, because it really is the perfect punk rock album. It combines the fast, hardcore punk influneced songs like "Can't Stop" with the quintessential Bad Religion songs like "Epiphany" that no bands have been able to clone to date, despite us nearing the 30th anniversary of the band. It speaks volumes that despite having 14 albums strong discography, the majority of songs performed live each night by the band come from this album. "Evangeline", "Sorrow", "Kyoto Now", "Materialist", "Broken", "Bored And Extremely Dangerous".... do I really need to go on here? From the opening track through to the fourteenth track, there isn't a single weak track on the record, or to be more bold, there isn't a single track that ISN'T a classic on the record! And that's strictly instrumentally and melodically speaking, we haven't even gotten to Graffin's lyrical universe, which also happens to be the best when it comes to punk rock. There are so many moments where one can only envy Graffin's lyrical ability, moments where you'll just go "what a great lyric" and ponder on the meaning of it for the duration of the rest of the song. The thing is, there are so many of them on the album that listing them all here would take the space of an entire review. But here are some of my favorites, that range from climate-change ("You might not think there's any wisdom in a fucked up punk rock song" in "Kyoto Now") to wonderfully detailed and intelligent criticism of religion in, among others, my favorite track on the disc, "Destined To Nothing", which I'll just go ahead and quote here:
"Why do you consent to live in ignorance and fear / ancient people succumbed to it, can it happen here? / Does it make you suffer 'cause you have to die / is it best to live a lie? / Headed for eternity and destined for nothing / the future isn't difficult to see / It's easy to confuse grand design with life's repercussions / Lament not your vanquished fantasy / It's only destiny"
Or how about these from "Materialist":
"You're obsesssed and distressed / cause you can't make any sense of the ludicrous nonsense / and incipient senescence / that will deem your common sense useless / this aint no recess! [...] The process of belief is an elixir when you're weak / I must confess, at times I indulge it on the sneak / but generally my outlook's not so bleak"
Just wow. You can really tell from Graffin's language that he has a Ph.D.
As for the album highlights, well you're putting me into an impossible task. "Bored And Extremely Dangerous" is the last song on the disc, but goddamn it's good (might the lyrics be metaphorical to school shootings?). "Sorrow" is an obvious classic that anyone who's seen Bad Religion live has sung along to with their hearts out. "Broken" is pretty much quintessential Bad Religion. "The Lie" has a crazy good solo in it, and the verse dynamics are perfect. "You Don't Belong" might seem simple at first, but the social criticism in the song is astoundingly good. Really, I don't need to go on any further. If you don't own this album yet, or if you're exhausted by the band's immense back catalogue, "The Process Of Belief" is a great album to start out with, considering a 'Best Of' Bad Religion album could consists of just songs from this album.
Download: Destined For Nothing, Bored And Extremely Dangerous, Evangeline, Kyoto Now
For the fans of: Pennywise, Rise Against, NOFX
Release date 21.01.2002