Epitaph - 2002 - 36 minutes

After two patchy albums (1998’s ‘No Substance’ and 2000’s ‘The New America’) and the exit of their long time drummer, the omens for California hardcore legends Bad Religion were bleak. What a difference a year makes: here they are revitalised, back on their old label Epitaph and creating arguably the album of their career with ‘Process...’.

Much of the turnaround can be linked to the return of Brett Gurewitz, the guitarist and Epitaph owner who left the band in the early 90s to concentrate on his business interests. Gurewitz may now count celebrated artists like Tom Waits and Tricky among his roster, but his own band are as important in the history of US underground music as Fugazi and his songwriting reunion with Bad Religion vocalist Greg Graffin has been the answer to many prayers.

They may play at 220 beats per minute but their music and its sentiments can be traced all the way back to the protest singers of the 60s and ‘Process…’ finds Bad Religion railing against pollution (‘Kyoto Now’), wasted youth (‘Evangeline’) and creating an unlikely post September 11 tribute with ‘Sorrow’, a song which showcases their use of vocal harmonies and almost rootsy guitars to perfection.

Given that they got together in high school in 1982, Bad Religion are now twice the age of many of the trendsetters in the US, but ‘Process’ finds them growing old gracefully and highlights how much a new generation needs their open-your-eyes anthems. One only hopes that the Blink 182 and Sum 41 fans will sit up straight and listen.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Supersonic - Prove It - Can’t Stop It - Broken - Destined for Nothing - Materialist - Kyoto Now - Sorrow - Epiphany - Evangeline - The Defense - The Lie - You Don’t Belong - Bored and Extremely Dangerous