The Empire Strikes First review by Bad Religion

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  • Released: Jun 8, 2004
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.8 (24 votes)
Bad Religion: The Empire Strikes First
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Sound — 9
Having heard the name tossed around for so long, it was a couple of years ago that I decided to pick up my very own copy of a Bad Religion CD. However, sad as it is to say, it never really kept my attention. I liked the title track, and "Los Angeles is Burning," but that was about it, and that was mainly because they were the two singles. Now, switch over to a few months ago: I was searching through my CD collection, and I happen to stumble upon it once more. With a slightly different attitude and new interest, I took another listen and reprimanded myself for letting this album be pushed to the wayside. Sonically, it is your typical Bad Religion album. However, there seems to be a revitalized energy that was lacking in several of the other albums, and only reveals that they have plenty to say. It is darker; it is concise; and most of all it is a powerhouse of sheer rage. Starting from an eerie and foreboding "Overture" the album blasts pure adrenaline song after song, until slightly slowing down just a tad at the end with pieces like "To Another Abyss," "Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever" and "Live Again." These tracks in particular, especially the last one, make for an exquisite ending to this album.

Lyrics — 8
Even back when I didn't quite know what to make of this album (or of this band, even) I was always impressed by the lyrics, and also by the vocals. I didn't quite understand them, but I still liked them. Being a little older makes me appreciate them more. I now understand the opinions and criticisms the band was trying to convey--be it from the war in Iraq, to abortion, to religion, to society in general. The lyrics are somewhat more eloquent then other lyrics I had heard, and to play to a longtime stereotype about the band, I'll admit it: I like the fact that I had to look words up in the dictionary (yes, I am that nerdy.) As far as the vocals go: I was intrigued. The vocals, although, they seem kind of thin, in comparison to other albums are clear, knowledgeable, calming (oddly enough, ) but at the same time angry enough to pull off the vitriolic fury of the lyrics which are only accentuated by the standard three part harmonies.

Overall Impression — 8
Having expanded my musical interests in the interim of physically getting this disc and actaully sitting down to listen to it, I can now see this album for what it is: a good critique on our world, and administration. It raises questions, and makes one wonder why exactly things are the way they are. However, as with any album, it is far from perfect. There are a couple of songs that seem to drag on for too long or are in fact, unecessary, such as "Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever" and "Atheist Peace," respectively. At other times, there are a couple of lyrics that seem a little corny, as with the title track ("don't want to live/don't want to give/don't want to be/Empire!")or the second song in the previous sentence. Moreover, looking back, I realize that this album may not have been the best album to get a person into Bad Religion. For that, I recommend either All Ages, or Stranger Than Fiction. However, that doesn't mean it's a bad album. Quite the contrary, and I would definitely find some way to replace it, if something happened to it.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    sk8_punk_Trev
    MiScHiEf BrEw : to "unregistered": how can you think the lyrics get "kinda weird?"
    thats probably his way of lettin out the fact that he isnt very smart. they're not "weird" lyrics just cuz theyre intelligent.
    n00barmy
    This is such a great album. Easily the best BR album since Generator. It has so many strong tracks and the first seven songs are solid.