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Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 9
Production 9.25
Creativity 7
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.04
Musicianship 8.96
Lyrics 8.38
Production 8.54
Creativity 6.63
Lasting Value 7.13
Reviewer Tilt 7.67
Average: 81%
Inside AP.net

Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man

Reviewed by: Chris Fallon (09/29/10)
Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man
Record Label: Epitaph Records
Release Date: September 28, 2010


Greg Graffin is a smart guy. Almost too smart. Half the time, I don't know what he's talking about in his songs, although I do know it's something super intelligent and over my head. But that's fine. I can live with this inferiority complex, because when it comes to his work in Bad Religion, it's all so uniform and tight... it simply makes me feel, well, good.

Obviously I'm not a college professor nor a Cornell grad, so pardon my lack of flair. Really, the point is how smart a band like Bad Religion is, despite how casual listeners may find them to be, say, too comfortable after 30 years. Truth is, comfort is synonymous with reliability - and reliability is synonymous with adeptness. Groundbreaking? Hardly. But after this long, on your 15th full-length? There's no need to be. You can address separate issues one at a time and continue to build off what got your to album number 15 by easing into new paradigms of sound and style.

The Dissent of Man is not a celebration in angst but a melding of the ideas that have shaped our independence. Some may see this as a bit of a shift, at least in tempo, but a progression in lyrical context. Yes, this is Graffin still buttering a thick layer of anthemic pride and urging listeners to fight back without casting stones - but the album's greatest success is how it shoulders pessimism next to establishing one's own rights to fight the upheavel.

"Those were the days my friend / But Iím not talking about that at all," he sings out on thundrous opening number "The Day The Earth Stalled." With a theme of science over politics/religion, the band settles on negotiating a swift balance of distorted riffs alongside mid-tempo soldiering that shows off the relationship between Brett Gurewitz and Graffin. Using more of a folktale songwriting style, Graffin has a poetic charge to his delivery whereas Gurewitz is able to focus more on swimming in a more freelaced environment that suits his playing style. "Only Rain" and "The Devil In Stitches" keep the trademarked Bad Religion moments, but also add in a folk/country element that could not be a better tool for emphasizing the importance of Graffin's songwriting abilities (listen to the hook in "Devil" for further evidence).

The real surprise, however, is that Gurewitz is responsible for many of the slower tracks, which is a compliment to his own talents and for recognizing the strength of his vocalist. In fact, the album's biggest barnburners are courtesy of Graffin, who thrives on soapbox stature (meant in a good way, I swear). "Meeting of the Minds" and "Someone to Believe" both light the Molotov cocktail while "Cyanide" (featuring guitarwork from Mike Campbell of all people) and the jangly down-home beat of "I Won't Say It Again" detail the damage. "Cyanide" is a superior standout and "Won't Somebody" sounds lifted from a Willie Nelson record. Yet the band makes the alt-country shift work in their favor, particularly with Graffin's vocal inflection that sounds pitch-perfect for this style.

There are still plenty of old-fashioned moments here, too. "The Resist Stance" has a deep & urgent riff backing gang vocals and Graffin's megaphone invitation to "take a stance" and "Where The Fun Is" is quality mid-90's Stranger Than Fiction-esque stuff. The dual-threat of the aforementioned "Meeting of the Minds" and "Someone to Believe" are solid enough reasons as to how the band can still kick your ass around like a rag doll. "Wrong Way Kids" is standard fare for the band, without much that sets it apart aside from some harmonic dissidence, and the rhyme scheme on "Turn Your Back On Me" seems half-hearted - but minor imperfections on a fifteen-trakc road are easy to forgive. Brooks Wackerman continues to impress by contributing a great depth to the spine of these songs and Jay Bentley is the masked hero in this instance. Like a master chef, he contributes the spice and ensures the meal is not too spicy nor too bland; his rhythm is greatly admired and welcome. Brian Baker and Greg Hetson don't have a whole lot to do here, but on "Meeting of the Minds," they assist the furious riff and also seem to be having a blast on the throwback cut "Where The Fun Is."

Veterans at their craft, you can't walk into a Bad Religion album expecting worlds of change. That wouldn't be the same band - plus, they already did that on their second album. What is nice to see here is that the band understands and is confident in what makes them Bad Religion. They're still able to make a fist, get you to flinch and also coincide that with mid-tempo material that allows individual achievements to come to light. For longtime fans of the band, this might be the best album they've written in well over a decade. Certainly, this is the band's greatest overall work since Recipe For Hate. It's tightly condensed, compellingly charming and whipsmart storytelling.

You might not be able to teach an old dog new tricks, but you'll enjoy seeing that same trick over and over if the dog is really good at it.

Recommended if You LikeBad Religion. I mean, seriously now.
Choice Cuts"Cyanide," "Meeting of the Minds" and "Where The Fun Is"


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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 41
03:38 PM on 09/29/10
#2
Ryan Gardner
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Great review - I was hoping someone would review this.

I'm really enjoying this record. However, admitedalby, I've never listened to Bad Religion much before; I mean sure, I've heard a handful of tracks here and there, but I've never truly given any of their discography a listen aside from this record.

Chris, what record/where would you suggest starting with these guys? I'm very interested in hearing more.
03:44 PM on 09/29/10
#3
Chris Fallon
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Great review - I was hoping someone would review this.

I'm really enjoying this record. However, admitedalby, I've never listened to Bad Religion much before; I mean sure, I've heard a handful of tracks here and there, but I've never truly given any of their discography a listen aside from this record.

Chris, what record/where would you suggest starting with these guys? I'm very interested in hearing more.
I'd suggest going back to what fans refer to as the Holy Trinity: No Control, Against the Grain and Generator. From there, Recipe For Hate and Stranger Than Fiction are the best. Suffer is pretty much the greatest overall punk album ever made, but if you're really into all those? Explore the later years, which most people find to be hit or miss.

I'm biased and love everything the band has done, but in terms of general fan consensus, that's a good start.
04:00 PM on 09/29/10
#4
Ryan Gardner
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I'd suggest going back to what fans refer to as the Holy Trinity: No Control, Against the Grain and Generator. From there, Recipe For Hate and Stranger Than Fiction are the best. Suffer is pretty much the greatest overall punk album ever made, but if you're really into all those? Explore the later years, which most people find to be hit or miss.

I'm biased and love everything the band has done, but in terms of general fan consensus, that's a good start.
Awesome, I'll defintiely check out all of those. Thank you very much, Chris.
05:43 PM on 09/29/10
#5
+[jD]+
Furthest From Fame / Jonathan
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Awesome review! And I agree, this is definitely right on par with everything else they've ever done in my opinion. Love them.
05:50 PM on 09/29/10
#6
nolifesingedher
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I just got it. I really like it as far as first impressions go. Graffin is still in my opinion one of punk's all time best vocalists.
06:55 PM on 09/29/10
#7
MJSchmidt
Hang 'em high or not at all
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Great review, Chris for an awesome album! Pumped for the fall tour with the Souls!
07:38 PM on 09/29/10
#8
Jeremy Aaron
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It's amazing how these guys are still better at this game than anyone else out there. You'd think the whole shtick would get old, but it never does. I think too many bands mistakenly think longevity comes from constant reinvention. While that may be true in some cases, it's really about the strength of the songs, plain and simple. It's apparent Graffin doesn't know how to write anything that isn't badass.
08:02 PM on 09/29/10
#9
Chris Fallon
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It's amazing how these guys are still better at this game than anyone else out there. You'd think the whole shtick would get old, but it never does. I think too many bands mistakenly think longevity comes from constant reinvention. While that may be true in some cases, it's really about the strength of the songs, plain and simple. It's apparent Graffin doesn't know how to write anything that isn't badass.
Extremely well said. Wholeheartedly concur. They remain in my top 3 bands of all-time with good reason.
10:17 PM on 09/29/10
Ian Walker
wes craven with x cravings.
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I love the last line in this review. Never really been a big Bad Religion fan, but I'm glad to see they're still at it after all these years.
02:38 AM on 09/30/10
abusedcat
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I haven't picked up a Bad Religion record since The Empire Strikes First, which I thought was sort of a step down from The Process of Belief. Is New Maps of Hell worth checking out too?
03:28 AM on 09/30/10
Chris Fallon
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I haven't picked up a Bad Religion record since The Empire Strikes First, which I thought was sort of a step down from The Process of Belief. Is New Maps of Hell worth checking out too?
I like the album myself. I'd suggest you get this one before New Maps, but it's about the same as Empire. Does have a few real home runs in the 15-16 tracks though.
03:34 AM on 09/30/10
Paulb-182
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Would definitely have to recommend No Control to people who are interested in Bad Religion. Blows my mind that people using a punk website can't have heard this band. Will definitely be checking this out too after this review.
06:12 AM on 09/30/10
bdonne07
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I haven't picked up a Bad Religion record since The Empire Strikes First, which I thought was sort of a step down from The Process of Belief. Is New Maps of Hell worth checking out too?

To Chris' earlier post, I personally think most of the newer stuff is a "hit". I didn't get into them until later, which "unfortunately' means the newer stuff was more appealing for whatever reason (perhaps just the production value?). I really enjoy Process of Belief (songs are a bit one dimensional but very good) and Empire Strikes First (drums on Empire are AWESOME), heck I even really like The New America which will get me punched in some circles. However, I couldn't get into New Maps of Hell. It's not that different from the other new ones, the songs just didn't stick with me (Exception: I love the song "Honest Goodbye").

I'll definitely be giving this album a listening right now. I bought it the other day, but I've been listening to Jimmy Eat World's new album since!

Great review. I love the slower, more heartfelt stuff (a la newer Social Distortion) so I can't wait.
06:37 AM on 09/30/10
fsmith84
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If you want a full (albeit brief) spectrum of the consumate Bad Religion sound, I would pick these three albums:

Suffer - Probably one of the most important records in the history of modern punk
No Control - Agreed on by fans as their near-pinnacle with Suffer
The Process of Belief - The songcraft on this record is unreal; I think this is their most musical album. Everyone knows 'Sorrow,' but 'Evangeline' and 'Epiphany' are also excellent examples of the ooz'n ahhs at their finest.

I love how much early press this review is getting. It saddened me when only ~30 comments were posted about their newest release. These guys paved the fucking road with their sweat and dicks for all of the shit-music that gets a lot of (unfortunate) hype now. Also, their live show needs to be on every member's bucket list - they will tear the roof off a place.
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