By Thomas Anderson
Released January 18th, 2013 - Warner Music
In an era where Green Day posters adorn the bedroom walls of 11 year old girls, True North stands as an affirmation of the fierce, intellectually charged punk rock of the old days.
As soon as the opening title track starts, fans should breathe a sigh of relief. Bad Religion have refused to dumb themselves down, honing their formula of blistering, thoughtful and catchy songwriting to precision. Even at 48 (!) Greg Graffin belts out his trademark philosophical and political critiques with the same intensity he had 30 years ago. Each track unfolds with scathing reflections of present day issues like global economic crisis, religious fundamentalism and the disillusion of a Post 9/11 world. It makes American Idiot and other pretender punk albums sound like lullabies.
True North continues the band's winning streak of post-Atlantic release, and stands as their best work since the colossal Empire Strikes First. All but one of the tracks is less than 3 minutes long, filling the album with palpable urgency without sacrificing the quality of the songwriting. The production is solid (and fairly typical) but the triple guitar work really stands out. Just listen to the soaring riffs in "Dharma and the Bomb"and the solo in "Dept. Of False Hope", for example. Brooks Wackerman's drumming is spot on even at breakneck tempo, but with a surname like that it's no surprise.
If their tried-and-true formula hasn't impressed you over the years, then I doubt True North will change your mind. But for long-time fans, it's exactly what we want in a Bad Religion album: fast, concise, and powerful. It's resounding proof that it's possible to be catchy without sacrificing artistic integrity or diluting your message. It's music that promises to re-grow brain cells and inspire even the most vapid hipsters and reality TV addicts who hear it. True North stands shoulder to shoulder with their very best work, and offers an excellent starting point for curious newcomers wondering what the fuss is about.
Stand-out tracks: True North, Hello Cruel World, Crisis Time.
4.5 / 5