BAD RELIGION: The Empire Strikes First: CD

I have been listening to this for over a month and a half. That is pretty good since I have so many CDs and records that I haven’t listened to sitting next to the stereo. I get so excited about every release that they put out. I have been a fan since they began in 1980 and continued to purchase every release since then, except that I still do not own a copy of the first 7”. I still listen to Into the Unknown, even though they tried to destroy many of the copies and made it one of the most collectable of their releases. If you liked The Process of Belief, I think this album is much better. As many longtime fans cite Suffer as their ultimate record, I think this is on par or surpasses that record. Being on a major label for a time, the band has learned how to take advantage of a studio. To me, the additional production values add to the power of the songs. Brooks Wakerman, already having an album under his belt with the band, shows that he is starting to get comfortable and at home. The drumming on the song “Sinister Rouge” is incredible and on the album throughout. I almost forgot that he had played for Suicidal Tendencies for a time. Greg Graffin can always be counted on to write lyrics that aren’t at a sixth grade reading level. His reuniting with Brett Gurewitz as writing partner shows that they need each other to bounce ideas off of to get songs put together. They do benefit from having punk hall of famers Greg Hetson and Brian Baker to back things up and provide input. I can’t forget Jay Bentley, who has been there from the beginning, minus a record or two. All I can say that is if you are a new fan or a longtime fan, this doesn’t disappoint. Now I have to go out and get an actual copy since I got a CD-R with no cover.

 –don (Epitaph)