New Maps of Hell
Bad Religion has been woven in and out of my life since I was a wee teen of 14 wearing their logo (the fantastically simple “no cross” design) and pissing off my parents and the teachers at school. Their no-frills melodic punk rock was catchy enough for my young ears, but not so pop friendly to warrant my immediate dismissal. 1993’s Recipe For Hate and the following year’s Stranger Than Fiction were on constant rotation inside the fuscia (“It’s not pink!”) walls of my Dodge Shadow. As the years moved on I moved away from BR, only coming back for a listen here and there for a bit of nostalgia.
Then The Empire Strikes First came out in 2004 and my interests were sparked once more. That album was a fine return to old form, but this — the band’s 14th — release shall find my beloved teenage punk love not only back in my heart but back in my stereo (OK, iPod).
New Maps of Hell sounds like a Bad Religion album, period. Slicked up punk rock by pros who’ve been doing longer than most any band out there, and who refuse to alter their sound to fit trends. Instead of changing, the trends just come in circles back to them and then away again. As emo struggles to catch its last breath and the new generations of street punk are poised to kick in the doors of the mainstream, Bad Religion stand as the forefathers ushering in the new breed. As if to prove this, they are the headliners of this summer’s Warped Tour. Frontman Greg Graffin teaches life science at UCLA, a professor — a distinguished man of — who summers as the top dog on punk’s premiere touring festival.
Songs you should spend the next month memorizing are “Germs of Perfections,” “Honest Goodbye” and “Requiem For Dissent.”
Bad Religion: www.badreligion.com