BAD RELIGION - The Empire Strikes First
Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Seasoned political punks return to the barricades Stalwarts of the Californian punk scene, Bad Religion find there's still plenty to get angry about on this new album, their 13th, fuelled as it is by their concerns about the actions of America (the empire) at home and abroad. And once again, they set it all in crisp, hardened spurts of songs, 14 of them in less than 40 minutes. In that sense, you could say that Bad Religion are basically preaching to the faithful in the prickly, urgent way they've become renowned for. Prime exhibits include the title track (about the Iraq War), Let The Eat War (how the poor end up being the fodder in the war machine), Sinister Rouge (the rise of religious thuggery) and the George Orwell reference in Boot Stamping On A Human Face Forever. They're all familiar themes dealt with in typically robust ways, but somehow they avoid the earnestness that all this suggests, sounding fired up and committed as ever.