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Bad Religion, ‘True North’ – Album Review

Bad Religion, 'True North'
Epitaph

Bad Religion are to punk rock what Iron Maiden are to heavy metal. Along with both groups brandishing unparalleled quality within their genres in over three-decade-long discographies, both Bad Religion and Iron Maiden are storytellers at heart who paint vivid visual pictures through their music. Fans are able to immerse themselves into the worlds birthed by Bad Religion with even greater intensity than their own personal realities, which is a testament to how many pairs of eyes Bad Religion are able to lend their fans for short bursts of multidimensional insight.

‘True North’ refers to the most perfect precision of one’s own moral compass, a theme that repeats itself in different forms throughout the band’s new album of that name. As Bad Religion’s socio-political foundation remains steady and without a crack, the band bursts into the album’s title track with a distinct old-school sound. ‘True North’ is an example of a perfect Bad Religion song: short and concise with profound lyrics topped off by a power chorus harnessing their trademark multipart vocal harmonies.

The infinite perfection theme of one’s moral compass starts with the declaration of “Keep searching ’til the end” within the album’s opening track. The thesis continues into the standout anthem ‘Robin Hood in Reverse,’ which addresses the controversial laws that gift corporations the same rights as singular human begins. The line, “Here’s the church, there’s the steeple / Open up the doors, corporations are people / Wait, what did he say? / What the f— did he say?” forcefully tackles the subject of greed, which resonates further in ‘Land of Endless Greed’ and ‘Dept. of False Hope.’

‘True North’ gets increasingly personal while orating topics such as the individual’s own conscience in ‘Popular Consensus’ and ‘In Their Hearts is Right,’ the latter of which seems to challenge the religious argument that the moral compass is directed by God rather than natural instinct. Bad Religion’s scientific and secular views are carried further by vocalist Greg Graffin in ‘Crisis Time’ with the lyric, “Keep yourself in line / There’s no design.”

Musically, ‘True North’ bears Bad Religion’s classic stamp, so expect no shock or surprise in the construction of the record. They’ve still got those rich vocal harmonies, guitar leads with plenty of distorted bends and choruses that will get stuck in your head for days. The album will fulfill both casual listeners and those searching for lyrical wisdom while clutching a notebook and magnifying glass, which has been Bad Religion’s M.O. for well over 30 years.

‘True North’ isn’t just another notch on Bad Religion’s bedpost. Much like their 2010 LP, ‘The Dissent of Man,’ their latest album is masterfully directed and offers a wealth of depth along with a spotlit entrance for both longtime fans and curious newcomers.

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