Friday, March 16, 2012

Bad Religion - Against The Grain (Classic of The Week)

When speaking on Bad Religion, many people will contest that "Suffer" is the proven classic. However, for me, it was all about time and place when choosing which Bad Religion album would get the "classic" status. I was 14 years old when this album threw me off my seat and it's hard not to listen to that first guitar solo on "Modern Man" and not feel the same way today.

Perhaps the first band to help me expand my vocabulary, Bad Religion has become something of a benchmark to me in evaluating the standards on how bands write political and philosophical lyrics. I came across Bad Religion in the pages of Thrasher magazine. As a young skater, interested in all things rebellious, the imagery of the cross buster had my curious gears grinding as the band seemed so blatant in it's communication.

This led my journey to purchasing "Against the Grain" at the franchise store at our local mall. The music that accompanied this controversial imagery was perfect. It's fast, dark melodies took on an urgency to me that made punk sound like something totally different from what I had heard before. Upon delving into the lyrics, Bad Religion was informative in a way that made you want to go out and research these things they spoke about.

My 14 year old self used these songs as somewhat of a guide to start some critical thinking on issues of the environment, religion, government and social interaction. It became clear that this album was addressing heavy topics that I could barely wrap my head around at the time. The world is a fucked up place and this record was tearing away the blindfold.

From a musician's standpoint I was totally drawn in by the speed and character of the chord progressions. The lead guitar work on songs like "Modern Man", "Anesthesia", "Flat Earth Society" and "Faith Alone" seem to have a voice all it's own that complimented the melody so well that it gives one chills. The bass tone is full, carrying a great mid range without compromising low end (see the bass solo in "Turn On The Light"). It would be wrong to speak of these compositions without mentioning the distinguishable vocal delivery that is unique to Bad Religion. The melodic, matter of fact-ish tone that spits these well formed concepts out in smooth, rhythmic prose has yet to be copied successfully by anyone. This is truly a classic that has stood the test of time.