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Bad Religion | Process of Belief | review | punk | Lollipop

Bad Religion

The Process of Belief (Epitaph)
by Tim Den

By now, you've heard it all: Mr. Brett's back in the band, the band's back on Epitaph, the comeback of their career... well, as a life-long diehard Bad Religion fan, I can assure you that no hype in the world will be able to conceal the truth. And that, my friends, is... uh, not much to write about, actually. Yet another Bad Religion album, yet another collection of 50% gems and 50% throwaways.

We (the fans) really shouldn't be surprised by now. Even Stranger Than Fiction and The Grey Race were mixed bags, and those were BR's best records during the mid-'90s. What did we expect, another Generator? Another Against the Grain? Let's not kid ourselves. We gotta take the treasures with the getting-too-old-and-running-out-of-juices. For about four albums now, Bad Religion have delivered some of their best material alongside some of their worst, and The Process of Belief is no different.

Sure, having Mr. Brett back definitely breaks up the monotony of Greg Graffin's fixation with the same four chords, but The Process of Belief isn't the reinvention of the classics like "they" would have you believe. Instead, the best parts of it soar into the wide horizons because they echo the glory days, not because of fresh new ideas. Examples? The heartfelt "Sorrow," which is just a folkier rewrite of "Walk Away" (one of their best). "Materialist" sounds like it would fit right in with the mid-section of No Control, and the pre-chorus of "Destined for Nothing" could be a direct descendent of something off of Recipe for Hate. Not that these similarities render the songs completely irrelevant: The first ten songs of The Process of Belief pummel you and rip your heart out just like Suffer... but then you remember you already have Suffer... So what to do? Get mad at these stalwarts for copying their past, best works, or just enjoy the ride?

While you make that decision on your own, lemme at least say this; like the last four songs from Stranger Than Fiction, "Come Join Us," "Punk Rock Song," "A Walk" from The Grey Race, most of No Substance, and "I Love My Computer" from The New America, The Process of Belief also gives you a few god-awful moments. What's with the cheesy mid-tempo "rock" tunes ("Broken," "The Defense")? One "Infected" was enough! And what about the SHAMELESS, note-for-note rip-off of "Stickin' in My Eye" on "Epiphany"? How the fuck did no one notice that one? New drummer Brooks Wackerman (Bad 4 Good, anyone?) gives the aged bunch a new fire to roast on (when he's not shitting all over the old songs during live shows by overplaying more than a three-hour Dream Theater show), but he ain't good enough to make me air-drum my way through the boredom of stuff like "You Don't Belong."

A catch-22, this album. Just like most of their Brett-less work. You'll either have to repress "this sounds just like that old song of theirs..." and enjoy it, or invest in their back catalog (which I recommend everyone doing, anyway).
(2798 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026)
 


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