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Bad Religion - The Gray Race (Cover Artwork)

Bad Religion

Bad Religion: The Gray RaceThe Gray Race (1996)
Bad Religion

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


Contributed by: Drizzt7_drekDrizzt7_drek
(others by this writer | submit your own)

//note: I'm not going to compare this to any other band or song, although I understand that would give a frame of reference to people who aren't familiar with this album, I don't think it's fair to do that. Rather, I'm going to try to give my opinion from the perspective of how I feel listening to.
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//note: I'm not going to compare this to any other band or song, although I understand that would give a frame of reference to people who aren't familiar with this album, I don't think it's fair to do that. Rather, I'm going to try to give my opinion from the perspective of how I feel listening to this album. So, keep that in mind when reading this.

Bad Religion was just coming off their best selling record and were at a crossroads. They had sold more albums than they had ever sold before, but they have sparked a mild hatred from some punk circles (like they did with "Into the Unknown) and also had to suffer the loss of half of their songwriting (maybe even the better half). Should they make a record similar to Stranger than Fiction or should they go another route. I think the choice was made for them with the addition of Brian Baker (of Minor Threat fame).

I'd like to point out that this is my favorite post-Gurewitz albums and maybe one of my favorite albums period; however, I rarely listen to it all the way through. It seems like Graffin took his clinical approach to life and applied it to this record. This album is harsh, cold, and distant, almost as if Graffin and co. are watching the world from a lab somewhere. Studying people and attempting to make sense of it. The production on this album (one of my favorite jobs on a BR album) works well with this approach and makes this one of BR's more powerful releases. While lacking in punk fury, it makes up for it with simple detachment and disappointment.

Here are a few of the highlights numbered by the track on which they appear.

1) The Grey Race (Gray Race) - this is one of the best songs I've ever heard opening an album, it just seems really suited for the #1 spot on the album. It hits you real fast and gets you ready to listen to this album as a whole (unfortunately, since some of the other songs are sort of lacking, it kind of leaves you disappointed at the end).

4) Parallel - Imagine a grad student giving a very long thesis...he must constantly reinforce his point throught out the work; however, he knows it all so well that he's become a bit dispassionate about the point. The listeners to this can feel that and they all feel pity on him. This song is wonderful. (I'm not sure if that made any sense, however.)

9) Spirit Shine - If you have ever had someone who blindly tries to explain some sort of religious dogma to you, then you know how this song makes me feel. This song is catchy in its own way.

15) Cease - After the powerful opening that this album offers, it sort of drops off for a bit. However, this song (my favorite BR song ever, I think) just makes everything worthwhile. This is the only song on the record where the emotion is obvious. It is also the most effective song on it. A hopeless despair just fills me everytime I listen to it, and while it may not be the feeling I want, it's a real emotion...pure, and untainted by any sort of concerns about what punk band sold out to what major label. This song is amazing, and I recommend this entire song for this one song.

Basically, for those of you looking for a new approach to punk rock, this is great. For BR fans, this is a must have. For those looking for rage and agression or bitter angst about women, look elsewhere. This album is bare, a detached theory on people, an emotional plea made by someone who no longer feels what he is trying to express. Cold and clinical doesn't always mean 'bad.'

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Bad Religion - Against the GrainBad Religion - No ControlBad Religion - SufferBad Religion - Stranger Than FictionBad Religion - The Empire Strikes FirstBad Religion - Recipe For HateBad Religion - New Maps of HellBad Religion - GeneratorBad Religion - The Dissent of ManNOFX - Punk In Drublic

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Let_Yourself_Be_Heard (December 11, 2012)

Really underrated album from their "commercialized" years. It has some of my favorite BR songs to date like, "Punk Rock Song", "10 in 2010", and "Come Join Us".

majorthreat (October 29, 2011)

The production is gross, and yes it does feel forced

StandAlone (October 3, 2009)

I think this is one of the best Bad Religion albums. Even lacking Mr. Brett, BR really wrote some great songs. It sucks that they do not play most of these songs live anymore.

wyzo (September 19, 2006)

a bizarre record, seemed forced at the time. My least favorite sans brett record. I mean, 'a walk' as your single? rough times.

Graffin needs a counterpoint, which brett's lyricism usually provided.

I think people confused over production value quibbles may not understand what part of a records sound is due to songwriting, what to recording, and then mixing, then yet another step, mastering.

Basically, this record was produced very blandly. The guitar tone, not the parts, not the melodys, but the tone choice for the notes to be heard through is just lifeless. Which is great for a record called 'the grey race' (or gray, live a little both ways), but not so much an idea that should be actually executed.

The drums sound like a metronome, a drum machine might as well have been used, may have been more interesting. The bass is just there. The mix isn't very interesting, everything scrunched into this middle plateu of constant buzzing.

I read an interview (i think it was about this one) where jay basically said the producer just did a horrible job, but they wanted to get a new record out and move on post-brett with touring.

Brian Baker, though experienced, just didn't bring much to the table. Great guitar player, but basically filling a position.

Some gems. Parallell, Cease. I like this record, there is something about it that just doesn't make it stick. Almost like the Bad religion record that could exist in your head without it existing. An imagined BR record.

-w

NotDead (February 16, 2006)

change to my previous post this is a gd album but i feel Process of Belief is their weakest but sme agen still an awesum album

NotDead (February 16, 2006)

there weakest album but if any other band had put it out they would be getting rave reviews 'Pity the Dead' is a great song nd one of the most sincere and straight up ive heard for a long while

Anonymous (June 6, 2005)

1. Poor
2.Poor
3.Poor
4.Poor
5. GOOD SONG
6.Poor
7.Poor
8.Poor
9.Poor
10.Poor
11. FANTASTIC SONG
12.Poor
13Poor
14.Poor
15.Poor

The guy on the cover looks like the Rise Against singer.

joeg (February 4, 2005)

oops. i thought my 1st comment didn't go through.

joeg (February 4, 2005)

This is a solid record, definitely underrated but understandable considering they've got a handful of classics that came before it. I don't get the criticism that the songs here suffer because Brett left. Sure the production here is cleaner but I don't find it to be cold and distant at all. The songs are a lot more up tempo and catchier than previous albums. I actually prefer this album over Generator.

joeg (February 4, 2005)

this album is good and definitely under appreciated. it doesn't reach the caliber of classics like No Control, Against the Grain and Generator, but its not bad-the best of the post-Gurewitz albums.

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

Stranger Than Fiction,No Control,Generator,and The Gray Race.These in my opinion are the best BR albums.The Process Of Belief is a good album but not great and I agree as well that their live shows are lacking big time.Graffin comes off like an idiot on stage,Brooks is too fucking metal for me,and the harmonies don't cut it anymore.By the way,WHERE THE FUCK IS MR. BRETT????????????????

Anonymous (July 24, 2002)

My favorite of all Bad Religion records.
To be honest with you,This is one of the most important and under appreciated records of BR's 22 year history.I'm not a big fan of Process Of Belief and their recent live shows have been a real letdown but then again that's just my opinion.

Drizzt7_drek (July 23, 2002)

I just mentioned the highlights that stand out for me. Other songs on there are pretty good.

Anonymous (July 23, 2002)

??? whaaaa... well this is my opinion, but how come none of you have mentioned the great tracks like them and us, empty causes, victory, and drunk sincerity? this is indeed bad religion's best, of course OTHER (not next to) than suffer.

but damnit, all ages is still their best work! i know i know it's a greatest hits shit...

- n'deso

bemused (July 21, 2002)

Not their best, but not that bad. This album has some of their best songs-
Pity the Dead, Streets of America, Punk Rock Song, 10 in 2010.
But there a few pretty average tracks aswell-(basically all the songs this reviewer has chosen as his favourites)

maverick (July 20, 2002)

Fucking right I'm cool.

I'm also sick as a dog right now [puking, coughing up junk, and more things you don't want to know about], so if you wanted to buy me a present to cheer me up, I wouldn't complain.

-Scott

fakesmile (July 20, 2002)

"I have this album on gray vinyl; how cool am I?

-Scott"

You've got Stray Cats & Radio Birdman on vinyl...
Your cool!!!

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

A couple note on why this is probably one of the best BR albums:

1. The dark quality probably comes from Greg's failing marriage at the time. He was divorced a little less than a year after this album was released (and then he released his solo album dealing with the affair, which I'd rather not discuss...)

2. Greg told one magazine (maybe the late Rip or California's BAM?) that he was very conscious of what Brett had contributed to the group and therefore tried to write outside of his usual style and try a more Brett-like approach in some songs.

3. Greg had a lot to prove in writing the whole album as opposed to just half (Brian Baker co-wrote two songs, I think). I think he rose to the occasion, wrote a brilliant, much more cohesive album than the last three (which I think are mostly duds).

One of the songs that I remember that wasn't mentioned was "Streets of America". I like a lot of BR's "slower" songs and I think this is one of the best. I still haven't heard the new one, and I really need to...

--Cos

cawknocker (July 19, 2002)

formulaic...ahhh whatever wyzo. i'm not much of a bad religeon fan so i will choose not to post an opinion. i knwo that makes me an idiot in alot of circles (and amongst my friends) but i just can't get into them. i don't dislike them...i just don't care, but i respect the impact they have made on punk and the intelligent message they send.

Anonymous (July 19, 2002)

Hmmmmmm, got some good songs on that is for sure. GOOD FOR THE REVIEWER the song CEASE is INCREDIBLE god that is the best BR song going man, I like the new line up of Br simply because Brooks drum production is SO MUCH BETTER. Bobby's S's beats are the same on all the major label records, even the tone and overall sound of them, that would be my only complaint. CEASE IS THE BEST SONG

TheOneTrueBill (July 19, 2002)

this is my favorite BR album, along with No Control

Drizzt7_drek (July 19, 2002)

Man, I think the production on this album is absolutely wonderful. It IS inorganic, and I think that is such a change from the usual production you hear. It's so harsh and intense on this record.

maverick (July 18, 2002)

"10 in 2010" makes me laugh every time I listen to it.

I have this album on gray vinyl; how cool am I?

-Scott

wyzo (July 18, 2002)

probably my least favorite BR record, I think ocasek is a great guy buy the production on this sucks, its flat and everything sounds inorganic.

very formulaic, even for the makers of the formula, BR.

wyzo

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