In the punk world, no band truly defines the concept of concrete solidity more than Bad Religion. Despite being around for nearly 40 years and undergoing frequent lineup changes (save for front man Greg Graffin), this band has released album after album of, at the very least, consistently good punk rock and melodic hardcore. The worst material in Bad Religion’s discography is still above average, and at their best they have put out some truly classic punk albums, such as Suffer and No Control.
Shoot across the timeline to their more recent output and they continue to show absolutely no signs of slowing down; 2013’s True North was a fantastic output by a group of middle aged musicians who still radiated the energy of a young punk band. However, last summer Bad Religion unveiled what was supposedly the first song from their then-untitled 17th studio album, ‘The Kids are Alt-Right’, which garnered a somewhat mixed reaction from fans. Uncertainties arose about the quality of the upcoming record, especially after waiting over 5 years for new music from the band.
Fast forward a year to 2019 however, and the aforementioned ‘The Kids are Alt-Right” is thankfully absent from Age of Unreason, Bad Religion’s 17th Full Length record. Even better news is that the material that is present here is exactly what you would expect from this band: high-octane, energetic and politically charged punk rock and melodic hardcore.
Lyrically speaking, this record shares a host of similarities Bad Religion’s 13th album; The Empire Strikes First. While that album was largely criticizing the administration of George Bush, Age of Unreason’s lyrics largely revolve around the administration of Donald Trump. It’s no secret that this band has been long-time critics of the American Republicans, and this album is certainly no exception to that rule, as front man Greg Graffin blasts topics such as racism, political divisiveness and other topics which have caused a lot of unrest over the last few years. Ultimately whether or not you enjoy the lyrical content of Age of Unreason will depend largely on your political affiliation, but then this is no different for the rest of Bad Religion’s output.
As you'd expect Instrumentally this record is packed with energy and plenty of memorable riffs and melodies. Most of the songs on here stick to Bad Religion’s traditional mix of punk rock and melodic hardcore, perhaps best exemplified in 'Do The Paranoid Style', filled with fast paced drumming and power chords aplenty. However, over the years the band have experimented with other styles of music, such as alternative rock, and this experimentation shows in some of the slower songs on this album such as 'Lose Your Head' and 'Big Black Dog', the latter of which mixes this slower pace well with brief returns to a more hardcore pace.
Overall, this album is a high quality addition to an already extensive and impressive discography that Bad Religion can boast. Nothing here explores new ground for the band, nor does anything on show throughout Age Of Unreason rival any of the bands greatest work, though this could just be down to the fact that this band has such a vast and consistently solid output that at this point in their career, making an amazing record is neither likely nor really necessary. When all is said and done, Age Of Unreason is a reassurance that Bad Religion are still going as strong as ever, despite being nearly 40 years into their career, and it’s unlikely that they will slow down any time soon.