The West Coast punk legends' 17th studio effort and first full-length outing since 2013's True North, Age of Unreason couldn't have arrived at a more divisive time, which suits Bad Religion's particular brand of melodious socio-political punk just fine. If the one-off single that preceded it -- "The Kids Are Alt-Right" -- is any indication, Greg Graffin and company are more than up to the challenge of speaking truth to power, which they do with equal parts earnestness and apoplexy. True to form, Age of Unreason commences with a snare roll and a pick slide -- the latter move is featured so frequently that it deserves an instrument credit. The aptly named "Chaos from Within" pulls no punches -- "The Fox-stained leaves of civilization depict a stark repeat" -- delivering a taut minute-and-50-seconds' worth of melody-forward emotional discord. "Do the Paranoid Style" follows suit, sardonically casting the current zeitgeist as a hip dance like The Jerk or The Hustle, but the kinetic "Faces of Grief" and the equally propulsive title cut offer up the faintest glimmers of hope; hastily strung together beacons on the eve of a climactic battle. Produced with the considerable snap of Grammy-winner Carlos de la Garza (Ziggy Marley, Paramore), songs like "Big Black Dog," with its disco swagger, and the soaring "End of History," which somehow finds a way to successfully meld melody lines from Cheap Trick's "Southern Girls" and Aerosmith's "Dream On," resonate on a visceral level. Graffin remains a potent evangelist of the punk idiom, and while there's nothing on Age of Unreason that would sound out of place on anything that came before it, the band's commitment to keeping the genre vital, both musically and lyrically, feels as necessary as it does timely.
AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger