Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First (2004)

Posted By: Rehabilly
Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First (2004)

Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First
WV+CUE+LOG or mp3 CBR 320 | 39:46 min | 298 or 92 MB
Punk Rock / Epitaph Records Europe # 6694-2

A sense of justice and moral outrage is frequently part of punk's ethos, and Bad Religion has willfully flown this flag since the early 1980s. The title of the band's 2004 release, THE EMPIRE STRIKES FIRST, and the songs "Let Them Eat War" and "Sinister Rouge" indicate that Bad Religion has a thing or two to say about United States foreign policy and the George W. Bush administration, among other things. Driving guitars, thundering bass, and jackhammer drums create a sonic assault that reinforces the group's ideological fervor and underscores the pitch of its rage. Though Bad Religion borrows from the legacy of punk, its music does not fall strictly under that rubric. The pop melodicism of the band's song structures and sing-along choruses, along with heavy-metal time changes and blistering guitar solos, help broaden its appeal, as does the range of social and political issues addressed in the group's lyrics. THE EMPIRE STRIKES FIRST shows Bad Religion at the top of its game, mining the musical and topical principles that made its previous releases popular, while losing none of the fire or urgency that keeps its approach vital.

The Empire Strikes First was released in June, 2004 and peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 album chart, the highest position the band had attained at the time. The album scored a minor radio hit with, "Los Angeles Is Burning", which also reached #40 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The title is a reference to the new Bush Doctrine of preventive war, and a play on the name of the popular Star Wars movieThe Empire Strikes Back. Although some of the album is related to the Iraq war, the band also touches on familiar topics like religion, the environment, and the media on the hit song "Los Angeles Is Burning". Throughout the album, and especially in the song "Boot Stamping On A Human Face Forever", are references to the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First (2004)

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.

~ Johnny Loftus, all media guide

01. Overture
02. Sinister Rouge
03. Social Suicide
04. Atheist Peace
05. All There Is
06. Los Angeles Is Burning
07. Let Them Eat War
08. God's Love
09. To Another Abyss
10. The Quickening
11. The Empire Strikes First
12. Beyond Electric Dreams
13. Boot Stamping On A Human Face Forever
14. Live Again (The Fall Of Man)

all songs written by Greg Graffin & Brett Gurewitz except "10 & 12" co-writers C. Wollard & B. Wackerman,
"11" co-writer B. Baker, and "7" co-writers Baker/Bentley/Wackerman/S. Francis

Exact Audio Copy V0.99 prebeta 5 from 4. May 2009

EAC extraction logfile from 28. June 2009, 4:28

Bad Religion / The Empire Strikes First

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Range status and errors

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Test CRC 558973E8
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Copy OK

No errors occurred

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Produced Brett Gurewitz & Greg Graffin
Recorded & Mixed by Joe Barresi in November 2003 - February 2004 at
Sound CityStudios, Van Nuys, Los Angeles. Mixed in February 2004 at Bay 7, Valley Village, CA.
Mastered by Tom Baker at Precision Mastering, Los Angeles, California.

• Greg Graffin – lead & backing vocals
• Brett Gurewitz - guitars, backing vocals
• Greg Hetson – lead & rhythm guitars
• Brian Baker - guitars, backing vocals
• Jay Bentley – bass guitar, backing vocals
• Brooks Wackerman – drums & percussion

Release Date: June 7, 2004
Label: Epitaph Records Europe
Catalog No.: 6694-2