Bad Religion – the L.A. band that was a catalyst of the Eighties punk revival – have re-formed to record The Process of Belief, fourteen throttling songs designed to remind Sum 41’s worshippers about the oft-neglected cerebral side of punk. Working that old, reliable combination of buzz-saw guitars and shouted, instantly memorable melodies, the songwriting team of singer Greg Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz strives to jolt listeners into awareness of the world around them, covering classic punk ground about the voided-out values of consumer culture and the numbness of the age.
Their songs may not be elegant – many adhere to the same hyperfast tempo and rely on too-familiar guitar riffage. But the best of them compress provocative ideas about self-esteem, fate and personal responsibility into brash, blistering, exceedingly tuneful polemics: “Supersonic,” for example, uses pure delirious speed to lament the frenzy of modern urban life. When things get overwhelming, Graffin sings in the chorus, there’s always the quintessential punk response: “I just accelerate into oblivion.”