Bad Religion – Age of Unreason (Epitaph Records)

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Bad Religion have been a huge part of my life for more than three decades and for twenty nine of those years, they’ve also been the yardstick against which I measure other bands. For me, they are, and always will be, the pinnacle of punk rock excellence and while I realise that I’m not exactly subjective as far as BR are concerned, I wanted to lay all my cards on the table so that every single one of you was, and is, also aware of the fact that I’m more than a little fond of, and biased toward, Bad Religion.

Six years is a fair old chunk of change to wait for a new record from any band, but for fans of Bad Religion, a band who usually release a new album every two or three years, it’s seemed like an eternity.  So when the news finally emerged that they were readying themselves to finally release their long awaited follow-up to True North, I went into a tailspin of over anxious excitement that  was tempered by something that I’d never felt in the run up to the release of a Bad Religion record; doubt. What if the reason that it had taken them six years to release the record was because it didn’t measure up to their previous output? What if it wasn’t any good?

Beset by that nagging sense of apprehension, as soon as Age of Unreason arrived, I unpacked it, pressed play, closed my eyes, sat back and let it wash over me. Every atom of uncertainty and hesitation that plagued my imagination dissipated during the course of that initial thirty minutes, and for the next seven hours I barely moved, allowing myself to be swept away on a sea of soaring harmonies as Age of Unreason, locked on repeat, played over and over again.

While it isn’t the fastest Bad Religion album, Age of Unreason is every bit as complete as True North and is quite possibly the bands most direct and politically charged album. Intelligent and forthright, it’s a clarion call to arms that offers hope to those lost in the chaos and confusion of an increasingly disparate world, by letting them know that they’re not alone with its anthemic punk rock that lyrically doesn’t, and refuses, to pull any punches. Musically, Bad Religion have embraced their past as Age of Unreason owes as much to Recipe For Hate, Generator and Stranger Than Fiction as it does True North, and in doing so, they’ve crafted a punk rock classic for the ages that’s honed, razor sharp and the perfect foil to cut through the seemingly endless cycle of depression, bitterness and turmoil that our species seems to have become mired in. Age of Unreason has reminded me that there are only three certainties in life – death, taxes and Bad Religion and that I should never allow doubt  to get the better of me again. Ya-hey! Tim Cundle

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