New Maps Of Hell

CD (Epitaph)

Available from 01/05/2010

14.50 €

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Bad Religion always brought a level of sophistication to the world of American punk, derived mainly from their acute ear for melody and their incredible three-part harmonies (from vocalist Greg Graffin, bassist Jay Bentley and guitarist Brett Gurewitz known as the Oozin' Aahs). Amazingly, New Maps Of Hell, their fourteenth album - and third since Gurewitz rejoined - marks the group's 25th anniversary. Continuing on the trajectory of 2004's The Empire Strikes First; it was recorded in downtown L.A, and revisits their garage roots with élan.
 
Graffin's vocals are perfect on the more conventional numbers such as 'Grains Of Wrath'; yet the group's original snarl and spirit is still very much there on the hardcore double bass drum attack of 'Murder', '52 Seconds' and 'Scrutiny'. But it's also full of surprise: 'Prodigal Son' hints towards early period Elvis Costello and the Attractions, with Abbey Road-style harmonies. 'Honest Goodbye' is as radio friendly as any AOR you'll hear, delivered stridently, and the vocals on 'Fields Of Mars' make it resemble some great lost sea-shanty.
 
While there is still enough musically and lyrically to engage the new teenage fan; rebellion ("authority is populist deceit"); angst ("everybody is a bastard; my world is like plaster") and words I've never heard in popular music ('Transubstantiation', anyone?), these 17 tracks offer everything pop should - excitement, thrills and some cracking tunes.
 
I'm delighted to inform you that Bad Religion are still as angry as ever. As they themselves state, theirs is the impassioned sound of reason, anthems of a bittersweet idealism and a guarded hope.
 
New Maps Of Hell is an exceptionally intelligent, engaging record. --Daryl Easlea

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