Bad Religion

New Maps Of Hell

Written by: PP on 10/08/2007 16:47:08

If you don't know Bad Religion yet, you have been living under a (punk) rock (:D). There's little to say about the seminal melodic hardcore punk band that hasn't been said already, as they have pretty much single-handedly shaped the musical landscape in both punk and hardcore throughout their career spanning over 20 years. "New Maps Of Hell" is their fourteenth (!) full length so far, which sees them step back towards their roots for the first time since their reunion with Brett Gurewitz, which spawned new classics in the genre such as "Process Of Belief".

Critics say Bad Religion hasn't changed much since their inception. That may be true, but does that truly matter? The last time the band tried to change their sound, they lost all their fans (1983's "Into The Unknown") as a result. The simple fact is that Bad Religion writes the best melodic hardcore on the planet, and that's what their fans wanna hear. "Heroes & Martys" is simply awesome, even though it sounds no different than some of the songs on "Generator". "Scrutiny" is a new Bad Religion classic, even though it doesn't re-invent the wheel. Besides, Bad Religion's music has always been merely a platform for vocalist Greg Graffin's intellectual lyrics featuring fierce social and religious criticism. Holding a PhD in evolutionary biology, his songs are often challenging and difficult to interpret for the non-intellectual, with big words and themes fitted into simple punk rock songs. He has always argued that higher education and punk rock belong together, seeing as punk originally was a rebellious movement meant to counter the social norms. You need to be smart and educated in order to properly organize a rebellion, otherwise it'll just end up as yet another 'stupid angry mob'.

The album opener "52 Seconds" is just what it's title suggests, a speedy power-chord assault to make it clear straight from the start that this album is punker than thou. It's also much darker than the past few albums, triggering nostalgia to "Suffer"-era. "New Dark Ages" demonstrates the melodic punk side of Bad Religion brilliantly, while "Requiem For Dissent" brings back the missed gang vocals the band had on a few releases in the past. "Before You Die" features a more experimental, somewhat bouncy guitar riff, though without sacrificing any of the melodic hooks this band is known for. As a direct contrast, "Honest Goodbye" is a straightforward ballad showing Bad Religion as slow as they are ever gonna get. The theme of the song is cryptic enough to leave most wondering what exactly Graffin is saying goodbye to, but I'll leave that for you as a listener to figure out.

I could go on and on describing the songs on the album but it'd be pointless, because if you're a fan of the band you already know what they sound like. "New Maps Of Hell" doesn't have the same kind of surprises in the bag as "Process Of Belief" or even "The Empire Strikes First" had, so once you've heard the first half of the album you know what to expect from the rest. For what it is, "New Maps Of Hell" is once again an excellent album demonstrating why this band has always been considered as one of the most important bands ever. It shows how the band has not lost any relevance in the 27 years they have been a band. It shows how despite their age (43+), they are still on top of their game and better than 99% of the punk scene. One only needs to listen to songs like "Dearly Beloved" or "Fields Of Mars" to know that.

Download: Heroes & Martys, Scrutiny, Fields Of Mars, Dearly Beloved
For the fans of: NOFX, Rise Against, Social Distortion, Pennywise
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.07.2007

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