The Dissent Of Man, the 15th full-length by the punk vets of Bad Religion, is part of a celebration of the band’s 30th anniversary that also includes a live album and a book by frontman Greg Graffin. As such, the disc ought to be a hell-raising affirmation of everything Bad Religion has fought for over the last three decades. Instead, it feels like a victory lap. The 15-song disc starts out with a couple of barn-burners, “The Day The Earth Stalled” and “Only Rain,” that dish up the same brainy, meat-and-potatoes melodic hardcore that Bad Religion perfected long ago. The latter is even one of the most potent anti-Christianity screeds Graffin has ever penned, and that’s saying something. But from there, Dissent starts to dissipate. The group spends far too long indulging in mid-tempo rock ’n’ roll banality—including the songs “The Resist Stance,” which weirdly reworks the riff from Rush’s “Working Man,” and “Cyanide,” a bouncy, bitter love song featuring the unmistakable (and unmistakably out-of-place) guitar work of Mike Campbell of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. It’s understandable that Bad Religion would want to celebrate three decades as one of punk’s driving forces; that doesn’t mean they had to make an album that sounds like the party's already winding down.
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