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Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man | Music Reviews | Nerdy Nothings

Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man

Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man


The Dissent of Man is Bad Religion’s fifteenth studio album—can you believe it?! I can’t think of another punk band—certainly not a major one—that’s been making solid records for 28 years. That in itself is an impressive achievement, and the boys in this band should be lauded accordingly. I’d actually put Bad Religion in the top five punk bands of all time, maybe even the top three (The Clash, the Ramones, who else?).

But with a career that long, there’s bound to be some bad records. And it’s not that The Dissent of Man is awful, because it isn’t—it’s just that Bad Religion records almost always live or die based solely on the strength of their individual songs. That may seem like an obvious thing to say, but a lot of times albums (at least by good artists, which Bad Religion is) have some kind of cohesive unity, a reason that those songs are together on that album. Bad Religion records, though, seem to be just snapshots of whatever the band was writing at that point in time (there are exceptions, like the Bush-bashing Empire Strikes First). This is compounded by the fact that, let’s face it, a lot of Bad Religion songs sound kind of the same. Their albums really have to have some (literally!) stand-out songs to make an impression. Sometimes you’ll get a record like The Process of Belief where every track is fantastic, and sometimes… you don’t.

My biggest—verging on only—problem with The Dissent of Man is that no song really jumps out to me. It’s kind of a morass of aggressive guitar strumming, 43 minutes of homogeneity. A similar problem plagued the groups last album, New Maps of Hell, in which only one song—“Honest Goodbye”—was really a surprise, but there were a few other tracks that gave the album some bright spots. I think there’s only one genuinely great song on Dissent of Man, “Only Rain.” This is the song I want Bad Religion to keep playing from this album 10 years from now, if they’re still touring (hopefully?). Everything else can, I feel, be safely relegated to the back-catalog of same-sounding Bad Religion songs.

If there is one pretty interesting thing on this album, in my opinion, it’s the guitar work of triple threats Brett Gurewitz, Greg Hetson, and Brian Baker. There are some pretty wild solos and riffs on this album (especially in the first three tracks and towards the end) that I haven’t really heard Bad Religion do much with before. It’s not enough to make this album pop, but I think it’s an interesting note nonetheless.

I suppose philosophically, my larger problem with The Dissent of Man is this—Bad Religion has been making records since 1982. They already have lots of songs that sound like this. Why put out this album? If Bad Religion’s goal is to stay active in the public eye and to give them an excuse to keep touring, I can’t begrudge them for that. But as a studio release, a chapter in their recorded catalog where every entry should matter, Dissent just doesn’t do enough to justify why it should exist at all.

tags: bad religion

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  • http://andrewstamm.com Spaceman Spiff

    Here’s my top 5 punk bands… in no particular order: the Clash, the Jam, Fugazi, Television, Gang of Four

  • http://nerdynothings.com Rebel Rikki

    Nice list! I am gonna catch crap for this but (again, in no particular order):

    The Clash
    The Ramones
    Bad Religion
    Green Day
    The Buzzcocks (up for debate)

  • http://andrewstamm.com Spaceman Spiff

    Man… with Billie Joe jumping around like a ponce on a Broadway stage right now I’m no longer sure if I can categorize Green Day as punk ;)

    Buzzcocks though? Good call!

  • http://nerdynothings.com Rebel Rikki

    Yeah, Green Day has made the transition from punk to arena rock. But that’s one of the reasons I love them so much (Broadway show notwithstanding). I think “American Idiot” is a fantastic album.

  • colby

    The Clash is so much my #1 that it’s ridiculous. If I have to die listening to “London Calling”, that’s probably okay. But here’s the whole list…

    1) The Clash
    2) The Ramones
    3) Bad Religion (Yeah, agreed)
    4) The Buzzcocks
    5) Stiff Little Fingers (A rarely mentioned band, but absolutely awesome until about the mid-80s…just like most punk).

    I was absolutely floored to learn that Bad Religion has been around for 30 years. Not sure how psyched I am for this album- the consensus seems to neatly track this review, and it’s definitely true that when they’re not on, all their stuff starts to run together.

  • http://www.myspace.com/newtestleopard Matt Heckler

    Misfits would be in the top 3 instead of Bad Religion, especially in terms of influence. My top five, though, is:

    1. The Ramones
    2. Misfits
    3. Dead Kennedys
    4. Screeching Weasel
    5. Naked Raygun

    Bad Religion is good, but pretty inconsistent if you ask me. They’d still probably be in my top ten if I stretched the list that far.

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