The Empire Strikes First

The Empire Strikes First

by Bad ReligionBad Religion

Vinyl LP(Long Playing Record)

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In 2004, Bad Religion supplemented a magazine of reissues with one in the chamber called The Empire Strikes First. Given the state of affairs and activism of peers like NOFX's Fat Mike, it's natural for Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz, and company to point their measured seethe and trademark erudition against shady politics and policies of preemptive security. "We strike first and we're unrehearsed/Here we go again to stage the greatest show on heaven and earth," the title track rants. But Bad Religion was never just a catchy name, as "God's Love" illustrates yet again. And society doesn't get a pass, taken to task for ignorance in "Social Suicide" and suffered as the source of Graffin's profound cynicism in "To Another Abyss." So the band's as indignant as ever, and that's important. The punk-pop kids in the drive-thru and hanging out at half-pipes need to see the graybeards bringing the big issue pain train. But it helps if those issues are bound to strong melodies, and in this department Bad Religion doesn't disappoint. "Let Them Eat War" features a stinging lead guitar figure and the usual muscular chug; outsider rap poet Sage Francis makes an appearance in the middle. Opener "Overture" is a brooding instrumental, the sound of punk in a neutered Orwell future -- it bursts into a million pieces in the thrusting fists of "Sinister Rouge" and the aforementioned "Suicide." (Empire's lyrics are attended by footnotes -- including Orwell -- à la 1992's Generator.) Those BR harmonies rise and fall behind a pleadingly angry Graffin in "All There Is," and one of the band's three (!) guitarists adds a solo blister. Best might be "Los Angeles Is Burning," not surprisingly inspired by the California wildfires of 2003. "Palm trees are candles in the murder wind/So many lives are on the breeze even the stars are ill at ease" -- the track's as powerfully melodic as it is darn angry. The Empire Strikes First isn't a return to Bad Religion at its most vitriolic and unstoppable -- whether that could ever really happen is unclear, and probably unnecessary. Unnecessary, because Bad Religion is best when standing defiant in the way of whatever hate and shenanigans are currently inhabiting our collective psyche. Their tone doesn't change, but the battles are always changing. Watch out, evildoers -- Bad Religion is in your rear-view, and they're gaining.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/08/2004
Label: Epitaph
UPC: 0045778669417
catalogNumber: 86694
Rank: 16632

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Bad Religion   Primary Artist
Mike Campbell   Guitar,Musician
Brian Baker   Guitar,Vocals,Group Member
Brett Gurewitz   Guitar,Background Vocals,Group Member
Greg Graffin   Vocals,Group Member
Greg Hetson   Guitar,Group Member
Atticus Ross   Musician
Brooks Wackerman   Percussion,Drums,Group Member
Claudia Sarne   Soprano,Musician
John Ginty   Hammond Organ,Musician
Sage Francis   Vocals,Musician
Ian Bentley   Bass,Background Vocals,Group Member
David Bragger   Violin,Musician
Leopold Ross   Musician

Technical Credits

Joe Barresi   Engineer
Brett Gurewitz   Composer,Producer
Greg Graffin   Composer,Producer
Atticus Ross   Programming
B.J. Baker   Composer
Leopold Ross   Sonic Assistance

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