Bad Religion scores 'KKKK' from Kerrang!

The Lowdown: It's taken a while to get to this point -- the point where marks are no longer awarded for nostalgia. Having been stuck in the trap of 'maturing' -- ie making music half as exciting as they used to -- since after 'Recipe For Hate', the one thing Bad Religion have lacked through their lengthy wilderness years was the impetus to deliver the stabbing, melodic, thesaurus-imbibing rants that continue to make 'Suffer' and 'Against The Grain' albums that drop a lit book of matches on a trail of petrol leading to Fat Mike's pompous 'Rock Against Bush' compilation.

'The Empire Strikes First' is the response you really want to hear from a punk band when it comes to that world leader. It's a personal, considered and articulate viewpoint that, like 2002's comeback record 'The Process Of Belief', shows they've weathered the storm of experience yet still care. The difference is, this time they sound like they've regained their vitriol.

It's not all delivered with the breakneck speed of old, either: 'Let Them Eat War' even features a guest verse from underground polemicist rapper and slam poet Sage Francis. Indeed, Francis' 'Makeshift Patriot' EP is 'The Empire...'s hip-hop equivalent: a fiery-eyed, righteously-indignant defence of its makers' principals.

Bad Religion, then, are back. And -- once again -- they're breaking all the rules.

Best Tracks: 'Let Them Eat War'. 'Los Angeles Is Burning'

Alistair Lawrence
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