Bad Religion - True North (Cover Artwork)

Bad Religion

Bad Religion: True NorthTrue North (2013)
Epitaph Records

Reviewer Rating: 5
User Rating:

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

There's a fine line between honing a very specific sound that can define a band, and creating redundant and stale music. For more than 30 years, Bad Religion have proven that age is merely a number, and relentlessly churned out legendary records. The band's latest offering True North serves as a cul.
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There's a fine line between honing a very specific sound that can define a band, and creating redundant and stale music. For more than 30 years, Bad Religion have proven that age is merely a number, and relentlessly churned out legendary records. The band's latest offering True North serves as a culmination and retrospective of their storied history.

The title track starts the record with an instant melody that could never be mistaken for anyone but Bad Religion. The urgent beat converges with the soaring harmonies of the chorus, triggering memories of Recipe for Hate, credited by most as the band's best major label release. "Land of Endless Greed" continues this theme, with vocalist Greg Graffin pushing himself to deliver just the right key.

True North continuously finds Bad Religion not just accepting their past, but fully embracing it. "Nothing To Dismay" displays everything beloved about the band's sound. The marching cadence is complimented by Graffin's urgent vocal delivery of the verses, leading right into the call and answer chorus and wailing guitar solo. Aside from the production, the song could easily be mistaken for an outtake from 1989's No Control.

Many view 2002's The Process Of Belief as the band's unofficial "return." It marked not only a return to Epitaph Records, but also reintroduced founding guitarist Brett Gurewitz, whose songwriting partnership with Graffin is nothing short of legendary. True North shares a similar feeling of rejuvenation, but pulls more directly from the past in a very demonstrative manner. Both "The Island" and "Past is Dead" immediately recall memories of 1990's Against the Grain, and its follow-up Generator. "Robin Hood in Reverse" borrows from 1994's Stranger Than Fiction, with Graffin's direct social commentary and uncanny vocabulary arsenal ever present.

Scattered throughout the record are moments of new direction in sound. "Fuck You" draws more from previously existent folk influences, legitimizing a song that could easily be written off as campy purely for the title. "Dharma and the Bomb" recalls influences from the band's early days with a sinister melody reminiscent of Agent Orange or the Dead Kennedys.

True North is nothing short of a celebration of Bad Religion as a permanent fixture in music history, and maybe more importantly, a testament to a timeless history of influence and epic releases. Nothing comes off as stale or self-serving. It's easily the band's best release in the last 10 years, and with time it will garner more appreciation in the overall catalog. I don't look forward to the day Bad Religion calls it quits, but if True North is their final offering, it would unquestionably be the perfect ending.


People who liked this also liked:
The Menzingers - On the Impossible PastBad Religion - SufferOperation Ivy - Operation IvyPropagandhi - Failed StatesNOFX - Punk In DrublicPropagandhi - Supporting CasteThe Clash - London CallingThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Flatliners - CavalcadeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl Rose

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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.
timspencerbenbrooktx (March 26, 2015)


maninthebox (May 22, 2014)

I am completely hooked on this album. I think it is, perhaps, the best album of the band. Of course, the trilogy is the trilogy: Suffer, No Control and Against the Grain.

misfitt (April 17, 2014)

I believe True North is a very good album and is inkeeping with the best of Bad Religion over the last 10 - 12 years albums such as The Process of Belief and The Empire Strikes First.

I do not see Bad Religion as hardcore. For me they are a straight ahead punk band and songs like Nothing to Dismay proves this very well. This takes me right back to my youth and seeing bands like the UK Subs who are also a chant along band. The fastest song on the album is Vanity at just over 1 minute long the speed is frenetic but what stops this falling into the malaise of other fast songs are the great Bad Religion harmonies. Other great songs include True North, Fuck You, Robin Hood in Reverse, Dept. of False Hope, Popular Consensus and Changing Tide which ends the album brilliantly. The only song which really did not ring true to me was In their hearts is right. Now others' may disagree and that is fine but to me it was he weakest song.

Similar to my review of Alkaline Trio I have to extol the virtues of the chap who keeps it all together and that is Brooks Wackerman, along with Josh Freeze the finest drummer in punk rock and this chap really deserves to be punk drummer of the year. The drumming on this album is very solid, less choppy than The Empire Strikes First. Great cymbal work on Fuck You. Also a great fill in Dept of False Hope which you are I would play as triplet fill but Brooks mixes a triplet with what sounds like a flam but either way you can see what I mean he is always adding little interesting flourishes which in turn adds colour to Bad Religion. I was lucky enough to see Bad Religion at Koko where the sound was fantastic and Brooks was amazing. He manages to even fit a little jazz swing at the end of one Bad Religion song. How he manages to play those smooth crisp fills within the speed of songs like Vanity I will never know but he seems to slow as if time is slowing down as he never seems to rush his fills unlike a lot of drummers and he still comes back to start at the same pace he left off with which is an amazing skill in itself.

Also worthy of a mention are the excellent lyrics which I assume will mostly be Greg. Listen to Robin Hood in Reverse and you will see what I mean. He even manages to squeeze in a reference to Sham 69.

Do yourself a favour buy the album and have a listen yourself.

Sealeggs (January 2, 2014)

I have theory that Brett Guerwitz purposefully signed the shittiest screamo bands to Epitaph just so the new Bad Religion album would look like a bright, shinning, golden star compared to the mountain of shit sandwiches his label has released lately...

theproblemwithfire (July 26, 2013)

poster boys for Warped Tour Punk.

These guys suck, hang it up.

rafiislost (April 9, 2013)

Vanity is a killer hardcore song. These guys are mostly 48 (some over 50) and they're like wine. Bad Religion gets better with age.

OrgcorePunker (March 11, 2013)

This album is such a letdown by comparison to some of their earlier releases. I was able to give the record one listen from start to finish. Never gave it a listen since.

patanno (February 14, 2013)

Fanboy here. This is their best work since Process: Indeed. Anyway I enjoy the past records too (Empire and Dissent are great too)

desertburst92 (February 7, 2013)

Love the title track

jpaulcrosby (February 6, 2013)

Truth is, I make a terrible Bad Religion critic. Greg and Brett could decide to write a country/gregorian chant album, and I would probably like it. I am one of those people who actually like Into the Unknown ("Billy Gnosis was going insane..."). What could be more punk than writing an album you know your fan base hates? Anyway, this album was superb - five stars. True North, Past is Dead, Dharma and the Bomb, Hello Cruel World, Crisis Time, Popular Consensus, Department of False Hope, My Head is Filled with Ghosts, and Changing Tide are my favorites. And I agree with Barley Pat on the comparison to Sanity and Hello Cruel World. Initially I was thinking Infected, but Sanity is a more apt comparison.

BarleyPat (January 29, 2013)

I agree with the one guy below that The Gray Race is a great album, but I have to disagree with his take on Process. So far, and I'm just going to say it - I like this better than Process, and I'm thinking it may be their best since Against The Grain.

Anyone else think 'Hello Cruel World' sounds like a new take on 'Sanity'? Listen to it again and think 'Sanity, pt. 2'.

Anyways, who knows where I will place this album once the dust has settled and I look back on it in a few years, but right now I'm thinking it will hold a top 5 spot in their discography.

slamadams (January 29, 2013)

Rest of the Punk Rock world is gonna have it's hands full for topping this one. 2013 Record of the year frontrunner.

Rich27 (January 28, 2013)

Do you know what, I don't care if it's better or worse than any other BR album. All I care about is do I like it? And the resounding answer is yes. I like the review too. Doesn't mena I have to agree with sickboi.

rafiislost (January 28, 2013)

Past Is Dead's intro is like Adolescents "Wrecking Crew."
Robin Hood In Reverse sounds like Don't Pray On Me from Recipe For Hate.

dancooksfood (January 27, 2013)

I like the fact it came in the mail red vinyl preorder the day it was released .and it came with a CD and digital download .especially the digital download since I will not be opening the vinyl ill be selling it later for more money at a later date

77jordan (January 26, 2013)

I'm a fairly new Bad Religion fan, but I've glanced over all their albums. I like the earlier hardcore-punk style a bit more, and I think this album is their best since "against the grain". Has a nice balance of all their styles. The only song I don't really like is "hello cruel world". The recording is great; especially the sound of the kick!

drewan187 (January 26, 2013)

I like it.

oldenglish83 (January 24, 2013)

people, let's not overthink things, clearly my reference was in title only. let's just enjoy the record for what it is.

Alien (January 24, 2013)


I think you missed the point of track 5 in that case.

oldenglish83 (January 24, 2013)

Right, enough is enough. Please stop with the "its better than this album/not as good as that album", its Bad Religion for fucks sake! Can anyone name me just ONE punk/HC band other than D.O.A.(and excluding short gaps in their careers) with a consistent 33 year history that haven't lost sight of who they are with such a huge influence on many, many of today's bands (including the shit ones)? Thought not.

Opinions are like arseholes.....every fuckers got one.

So stop whining, stick the CD in the stereo, play it fuckin' loud and piss off everyone in the vicinity.

If not, then I dedicate track 5 to you personally.

HumanPorkChop (January 23, 2013)

Only had a once through of it and it sounds solid. Great hooks, catchy bass-lines and more oooohs than a Ghostbusters 2 play-set. However, I still don't understand why so many people possess throbbing clam stabbers over The Process of Belief. I personally found it bland, inconsistent, and lacking the fervency and urgency that Bad Religion were renowned for. I have this very cynical feeling that it was only because Brett was back in the loop; and if he had played on The Grey Race, 'these people' would ranked it up there alongside No Control and Suffer.

The Grey Race was a FINE piece of craftsmanship - dark, looming, tight and exceptionally cohesive. The whole album played out like a focused seminar. You could tell BR were in a bad place. There are some fantastic lyrics on that album ('turning raw compassion into fields of plus and minus'), and I personally felt that they hacked away the chaff like 'Television' to make room for sharper, more acerbic songs in the same vein as 'Better of Dead' and 'Tiny Voices'.

I'll skip songs on Generator, Recipe, STF and ATG, TPOB, but No Control and The Grey Race are burners from start to finish.

allbutone (January 23, 2013)

So... no one is going to talk about the slide whistle on "Dharma and the Bomb'? We're just going to ignore that? Because I'm fine with that.

Also, is that not Graffin singing lead on that song? Is that Jay or Mr. Brett?

rafiislost (January 23, 2013)

A lot of people saying it's their best since Process of Belief. However, I'd have to disagree because I think Empire Strikes First is Bad Religion's best work. That being said, this album is still fantastic. It reminds me of Suffer/No Control, Generator, and Stranger Than Fiction combined. A great album!

superanncoulterfanclub (January 23, 2013)

This treads more into Suffer & No Control, two epic albums in their own right -- and that is NOT a pejorative. Brett Gurewitz wasn't kidding when he hinted about doing No Control, Part II. Best since Process of Belief.

Anyone who hates this record obviously has a limited appreciation for Bad Religion, other than just the catchy radio singles.

superanncoulterfanclub (January 23, 2013)

This treads more into Suffer & No Control, two epic albums in their own right -- and that is NOT a pejorative. Brett Gurewitz wasn't kidding when he hinted about doing No Control, Part II. Best since Process of Belief.

Anyone who hates this record obviously has a limited appreciation for Bad Religion, other than just the catchy radio singles.

ak3punk (January 22, 2013)

The first few listens I wash;t so sure. On my eighth now, and I feel that this is the best album since "The Process Of Belief". Give it some time, it's good, real good.

thisrespirator (January 22, 2013)

This is a snoozer.

mike_oxbig (January 22, 2013)

Gets better with every listen and definitely makes a HUGE difference listening on good sound system VS. streamed through shitty computer speakers. BR fukken RULE! They don't disappoint. Can't wait for show in Vancouver. PBR, AM! and BR! Sounds like a fukken brilliant NITE!

killtaker (January 22, 2013)

Great album. I really don't get the "they are just going through the motions" comments. They could just tour on their back catalog if they wanted to do that but they continue writing new and excellent music.

telegraphrocks (January 22, 2013)

"you people are as bad as geriatric rolling stones subscribers who only want to hear dylan and springsteen over and over and over and will constantly lap up *anything* they put out regardless of quality or relevance."

Right on, man! Fuck all these homos for not thinking the exact same way that you do about everything. Fuck them in their stupid butts!

How's exitflagger's (echosmyron's) butthole taste, by the way?

jvoland (January 22, 2013)

I'm admittedly a huge fucking fanboy for this band, but I was taken aback with how much I love this record. Their best since Process, and I'd put this record right up there with the 88'-91' material too. I'll be listening to this record incessantly for months.

theproblemwithfire (January 22, 2013)

5 stars? album of the year material? jesus fuck. you people are as bad as geriatric rolling stones subscribers who only want to hear dylan and springsteen over and over and over and will constantly lap up *anything* they put out regardless of quality or relevance.

KungPowza (January 22, 2013)

That's weird joeg, I'd say this is my favorite of theirs since Process of Belief, which is probably my favorite album of theirs. This is definitely a very solid album.

joeg (January 22, 2013)

no way this is a 5 star record. after a few listens, i give it a 3 and call it my least favorite of theirs since process of belief. maybe it will grow on me like the last one did. we'll see.

burntorangepeel (January 22, 2013)

This album is amazing!

StraightEdgeHardCore (January 22, 2013)

I just got this today. Needless to say I love it! Bad Religion's just as great as they were 30 years ago.

mike_oxbig (January 22, 2013)

How come everybody seems to overlook New Maps From Hell??!! That album goes down with my vote as best Bad Religion album post No Control, Against The Grain, Generator... Currently it's my favourite Bad Religion album and has been since it was released. Yet, for some reason it never seems to get mentioned anywhere as one of their best albums. WTF??

NattyBoh (January 22, 2013)

I love/like all of their albums except No Subtance, which is awful. Just awful.

boonlar (January 22, 2013)

Best album from them since 'Process of Belief' in my opinion. I feel odd saying that my favourite track is 'Hello Cruel World'. The tempo and vocal harmony suit the mood and lyrics of the song well.

4/5. One star knocked off for 'Fuck You' and 'Dharma And The Bomb' which sound like B-sides to me.

jeevz (January 22, 2013)

Get better with every listen.... 6 stars!

chewie1234 (January 22, 2013)

I listened to the record this morning and it's definitely good but not a five star record on the level of "No Control" or "Suffer".

I'd rate it 3 stars and give BR kudos for another damn fine album!

CaulfieldNStop (January 22, 2013)

3 songs prevents me to give 5 stars. Still a awesome album.

nickvicious (January 22, 2013)

Only had one listen so far, but it's good. Robin Hood in Reverse!

beasty337 (January 22, 2013)

As a Bad Religion fan since I've been listening music, this album is a masterpiece. In my opinion, only 2 albums is better than this one, Stanger than fiction and The process of Belief. I can't stop listen to this album since I had it.

If they retire in a short term, what a good work to finish !!!

Bad Religion forever!

OffspringKickAss (January 22, 2013)

My favorite album of 2013, holy shit this is good.

iconoclast (January 22, 2013)

Best album since Generator.

Scruffy (January 22, 2013)

"Do people actually like the Gray Race (or anything from that era of Bad Religion)?"

Yes. Very, very much.

Also, I like this album more each time I listen to it. While I prefer the songs and albums where they step away from tradition and try something new, their fast stuff hasn't been this interesting since Process of Belief. My favorite track is "In Their Hearts Is Right".

jeevz (January 22, 2013)

It's been a while since I've agreed with a Punknews review. Spot on! BR's best since Process of Belief. I love all the old school nods, album of the year!!

sickboi (January 22, 2013)

@danperrone - I only review records that I like, and rarely. I really, really like this album.

Alien (January 22, 2013)

Though I wouldn't give it 5 stars, best bad religion in a while.

Glad renaldo didn't review this.

seriouslyawesomedude (January 22, 2013)

Great album

OntheImpossiblePresent (January 22, 2013)

Best BR since Process.

danperrone (January 22, 2013)

true north is good, not great. it they do sound like a band going through the motions. at least it's better than the dissent of man.

danperrone (January 22, 2013)

is sickboi still driving the hype train? he's been doing that for years and years and years

hayman (January 22, 2013)

Best band of all time, best BR album in years.

mrpistachio (January 22, 2013)

It's just modern Bad Religion. They feel like they're going through the motions. There's no spark, no vitality, no excitement. Yeah they can clearly write a quality tune but I need some pizzazz!

Amateurchemist (January 22, 2013)

Do people actually like the Gray Race (or anything from that era of Bad Religion)? I'm stoked on this album! By no means among their best, but it's a solid album that I will play plenty.

whiskyboys (January 22, 2013)

I have to rate this 4 1/2.

levidolphin (January 22, 2013)

i didnt expect it to be so GREAT!!! Hell ya!!! Maybe their best since Gray Race

MN_DrNick (January 21, 2013)

Yeah..... this isn't a five star album at all. It's boring.

renaldo69 (January 21, 2013)

deserving of 4.5 stars or more

peppermintpattyisalesbian (January 21, 2013)

I'm 30 and will never stop listening to this band. I don't know what I would do if I did not have their music in my life. They have gotten me through a lot of hard, depressing times

TahoeJeff (January 21, 2013)

This record is pretty amazing. I might've knocked it down a couple points for that slow one in the middle. Maybe its a grower.

telegraphrocks (January 21, 2013)

Good record, but I'd rank it somewhere in the middle of their discography.

Thrusters (January 21, 2013)

Five stars? The fuck? I mean, it's not a bad record, but no way it's worthy of that score.

half_Idiot (January 21, 2013)

They didn't completely front load this like the majority of their albums from the last 15 years, so that alone makes it better than everything since "Process" and the two before it.

ReelBigMike (January 21, 2013)

Expected a pretty good album, ended up getting an album that will certainly be in the conversation for 2013 Punk Album of the Year.

bryne (January 21, 2013)

Yeah. This band can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. Still as vitally important as they were 30 years ago.

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