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The seeds of rebellion,
This review is from: The Dissent of Man (Audio CD)
After 14 studio albums, two live albums, countless singles and E.P.s, two compilations, and at least three solo albums from members, Bad Religion doesn't have anything left to prove. Particularly since they returned to their own Epitaph Records in the early 2000's, the quality of a Bad Religion release is practically guaranteed, and their fans are undoubtedly going to love every minute of it.
Somewhere along the way, Bad Religion must have become aware of the level of fan confidence they have, because The Dissent of Man is amongst the bolder records they have ever offered. Sure, Dissent of Man offers some blistering fast hardcore cuts, but there are also some unexpected textures here that are clearly influenced by lead singer Greg Graffin's forays into country and folk, and the acoustic bonus tracks that were added to the Deluxe edition of their last album, New maps of Hell. In fact, the song "Won't Somebody" was originally released as a new acoustic song as part of that deluxe packaging, here re-imagined with an electric, full-band arrangement.
In interviews included with the Live At The Paladium DVD, the members of the band revealed some of the musical artists that were influences on them through the years. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and Todd Rundgren were all listed, none of which are really that surprising when you consider BR's sound. Dissent of Man, however, adds a few unexpected names to that list via musical allusion. The opening riff of Resist Stance is a clear nod to Rush's Working Man (Greg Graffin and Brett Guerewitz's love of prog rock is well documented, but never hasn't been so clearly displayed since Into The Unknown). Pride and the Pallor could easily have come from Social Distortion's self-titled album. Cyanide seems like a bizarre nod to "The Difference" by The Wallflowers. The closer Won't Say Anything is clearly influenced by '90's alt-pop from the likes Sugar. While these songs wear their influence proudly on their sleeve, each of them exude an undeniable "Bad Religion-ness", proving the songwriters' unique vision, even when trying on a different musical hat.
Dissent of Man is not the first time that Bad Religion has attempted to expand the stylistic possibilities of their sound, (New America certainly attempted that), but what makes this album so enjoyable is that these sounds are embraced enthusiastically and confidently (rather than lethargically), and attempting these sounds with the drumming prowess of Brooks Wackerman in the mix, the band sounds seasoned, powerful, and visionary.