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BAD RELIGION - Age Of Unreason

Release date May 3/19 (Epitaph)

Thirty-nine years into their career melodic punk kings Bad Religion continue cranking out albums like it's the good ol' 80s. On Age Of Unreason, the band's 17th (!) full length studio release, there aren't any surprises of note. Just straight-ahead, short bursts (with the exception one track, all clock in under three minutes) of rhythmically driven material that oscillates between radio-friendly, catchy material and up-ratcheted punk stormers. The recipe (for hate?) remains the same.

Some may question the validity of seeking out yet another Bad Religion album considering the sameness of material. Isn't having Recipe For Hate and The Gray Race in your collection sufficient? My response is the same as when people use the same argument towards Motorhead's Ace of Spades and Overkill or the Ramones Rocket To Russia and Too Tough To Die. Put up your hand up if you'd love to hear a new Motorhead or Ramones release. You're either a fan or you're not.

In this case, Age Of Unreason proves to be a good Bad Religion record, but not a great one. While the lighter fare proves to be memorable (refer 'Lose Your Head' and 'Candidate'), there isn't enough aggressive material laying the body blows that I crave. Sure, 'Old Regime', 'What Tomorrow Brings' and the title track gallop along briskly getting the blood pressure up, but there aren't enough moments here to raise it to a higher level. Sounds like too many tracks were written on acoustic guitar, rather than blasted out of an over-heated amp. Additionally, while the rhythm section is appropriately highlighted in the mix, the guitars are buried too low for these battle-hardened ears. That said, this is still a fun listen and a must-have for Bad Religion collectors. They just don't make bad records.

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