On paper, the notion of Bad Religion staying true to their DIY punk ideal seems risible. After all, guitarist Brett Gurewitz owns California’s highly respected Epitaph imprint and, in recent years, frontman Greg Graffin has taught at major American universities such as UCLA and Cornell.
Yet, for all the superficial respectability, the band’s militant heart still beats beneath the surface. Cramming 16 compellingly urgent refusenik anthems into an impressively nippy 35 minutes, True North, their 16th studio set, adopts a (largely) convincing anti-corporate stance and – at its plutocrat-baiting best on Robin Hood In Reverse and the self-explanatory Fuck You – it even laces their pugnacious punk-pop with a sprinkling of the raw, old-skool hardcore malice they first doled out on their seething 1982 debut How Could Hell Be Any Worse?.
It stops short of ravaging the commercial hand that feeds, however, ensuring that brief, scorched earth blasts such as Vertigo are balanced out by the glossier, radio-friendly sheen of Nothing To Dismay and the angsty slow burn of Hello Cruel World. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the Lemonheads-style chug of the remainder, though it plants its flag firmly in the same sonic terrain they occupied during 2010’s The Dissent Of Man.