Bad Religion – New Maps of Hell

Bad Religion – New Maps of Hell / 2007 Epitaph / 16 Tracks / http://www.badreligion.com / http://www.epitaph.com /

Anyone that actually knows me knows that Bad Religion is one of my favorite bands of all time. I thought that they had a trying time in the Atlantic days, but that they came back to true form with “The Process of Belief” and “The Empire Strikes First”. With Joe Barresi at the helm (Tool, Queens of the Stone Age), how will the band sound? Well, Bad Religion sounds a lot like they always have, but the band seems to have included some Weezer into their overall sound. Now, I did not like what Todd Rungren did to the band for their “New America” album.

I prefer albums like “No Control” and “Suffer”. However, I had a déjà vu that lasted through the entire disc, even though I had never had a chance to listen to the tracks before. After being in the punk game for over twenty-five years, it must be hard to innovate. When the band went “Into The Unknown”, I cheered. They can confront different styles and still be the Bad Religion that I know and love. There are stand-out tracks during this album, such as “New Dark Ages” and “Fields of Mars”, but much of the album feels as if Bad Religion is stuck between trying to come up with new material or just re-creating prior releases.

The inclusion of the more alt-rock sound present on the later tracks of “New Maps of Hell” really does not suit Bad Religion; while other issues and sounds may be becoming relevant to the band at this stage of their careers, I feel as if the two styles (alt rock and the classic punk style) do not work well together. It is not like an organic meshing together of the two styles, but rather something that feels grafted on to the punk crunch of Bad Religion. Bad Religion completists should definitely pick this album up, fans of punk and the band should pick it up, but I’m not convinced that the disc has the staying power to be a punk classic even ten years from now. This album will stay in my car for listening, but just for those times where I am driving somewhere and need a good solid beat to smash the accelerator with. For individuals looking to know what Bad Religion sounds like, this is a solid album. However, I would go back to the first and second tries at the sound – the aforementioned “No Control” and “Suffer” – before going to this album.

Top Tracks: New Dark Ages, Fields of Mars

Rating: 6.4/10

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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