Bad Religion: The Dissent of Man
Hometown: Woodland Hills, CA
When I got my first car the official sound track was Bad Religion: Generator. It spent so much time in my tape deck that in the hot weather the tape warped so that it couldn’t be ejected. For a good long while I considered them my favorite band. Over the great wash of time they have slightly diminished from the upper echelon of my collection, but still bear a notable position.
New America and Process of Belief fell a little flat for me. “I Love My Computer” is about as close to an unforgivable atrocity as they’ve ever released. I was just about convinced that they had spent all of their material. They had an incredible library, but it seemed the well finally ran dry. Then The Empire Strikes First came out and absolutely punched you in the face. While not necessarily my favorite album, The Empire Strikes First can certainly be argued to be their greatest album. From start to finish it weaves a tapestry of modern decadence and portends of our downfall should we not heed the warnings. Then New Maps of Hell came out. Maybe not another “Empire,” but further proof that Bad Religion was still had more in the tank.
When the release date for The Dissent of Man was announced I was looking forward to another hard hitting masterwork by Dr Graffin, Mr Brett & the boys. The first time I listened to it I was convinced that I was simply distracted with other things and hadn’t given it a fair shot. The second time I listened to it I once again became distracted. I took it to the car for day of driving and finally realized that it just didn’t hit.
Don’t get me wrong. I like every track on the album. I genuinely enjoyed the softer, more melodic stuff that doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional BR mold. I even enjoyed these songs quite a bit live, but there’s nothing really anthemic to grab you and make you pay attention. The first single off of the album “The Devil in Stitches” hardly stood out. In fact, the two tracks that most caught my attention were “The Resist Stance” and “Ad Hominem.” “The Resist Stance” got me going really well with the call for “Resistance!”
Then by the end of the track they begin to insist at the forced, unnatural sounding title. I take it back. After seeing this song played live, it’s a winner. [JB:Oct 23] “Ad Hominem” honestly only stood out because I had recently watched this stupid youtube video on Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.
The album also lacks any kind of flow. The tempo and mood really jump around and when we talk about “making an album” that is part of the artistry. I’m not sure if reorganizing the tracks would have truly helped. This certainly isn’t an allegory for rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. It’s just that with the lack of a stand out track, the chaotic mood just kept me out of any kind of listening groove.
I’ve seen Bad Religion on just about every tour since 1995, and I will see them again tomorrow. I’m sure they will be incredible on stage. (I really wish The Bouncing Souls were still on with them!) Hopefully seeing them live will help put the album into a context that grabs me in a way the recording itself could not.
I give the individual songs on the album an average of about a B. Unfortunately I give the album as a presentation a C.