Bad Religion’s twelfth long player, The Process of Belief heralded the return of Brett Gurewitz, and also the return to indie label Epitaph (I say indie to differentiate from independent, although really the same, however sometime around the mid 2000s or thereabouts I believe Epitaph had some sort of deal that linked them with major labels. Not sure how it worked, but thought I would mention it).
The return of Brett in the band made this a very much anticipated Bad Religion release for me, and surely plenty of other punk rock fans.
Brett Gurewitz co-wrote “Believe It” from the previous Bad Religion release, The New America. That was of course before he was a member of the band again, at least officially.
The Process of Belief definitely feels like it brought new energy into Bad Religion. Surely thanks to Brett rejoining the band and adding a third guitar player! I am not sure if there are any tracks with all three guitarists (Brett, Brian Baker, Greg Hetson), however sonically it feels like it. It is a throwback album to their heyday, while still remaining relevant today.
The Process of Belief starts off with a bang, and keeps it up until track four, “Broken”, when it slows the tempo down.
“Supersonic”, the aptly titled track starts off the album, in it Greg sings, “what’s time but a thing to kill or keep or buy or lose or live in”
Next track, “Prove it”, just about as fast, however changing the timing up, to me is fairly obvious for the most part how it is not necessary for him to have to prove himself to anyone.
My heart is not a cold cauldron of proof.
I don’t ever need to prove myself to you.
Looking back I’m off the tracks
More times than I recognize.
Mistakes are another opportunity to refine.
The latter showing how mistakes are human, and we learn from them.
Another line I like, “there’s no such thing as hell, but you can make it if you try.” Possibly tying to the atheist nature of Bad Religion, not to mention optimism. It continues “There might come a day when emotion can be quantified. But as of now there’s no proof necessary, it’s only in your mind.”
Track three keeps the fast temp up with “Can’t Stop”. I can’t really quantify this song, however a good line to make you ponder, as well as illustrate, and add to, the Bad Religion vocabulary, “gratification, well, I lack that affectation.”
“Destined For Nothing” track five starts off with the trademark Greg Graffin Yeah Hey! I take this song as being one that ties in to religion, and how it is useless, and or being ignorant and seeing things as they believe things to be, or hope to be, even though it is obviously not the case. “Ancient people succumbed to it, can it happen here?” and “it’s easy to confuse grand design with life’s repercussions, lament not your vanquished fantasy”.
Track six, “Materialist”. Prior to this track, I could not give an accurate definition of what a materialist is. However now I can. The Oxford English Dictionary defines materialist, “senses relating to the material nature of things.” Also, “a person who favours material possessions and physical comfort over spiritual things; a person who adopts a materialistic way of life.”
This track ties in with religion as I am not sure if one can be religious and a materialist. I dare say I do agree with this track. Greg later sings “I ain’t no deist”, confirming the religious nature of the track. The album title comes from a line in this song, “the process of belief is an elixir when you’re weak.” I recently thought this could very well refer to the belief in God, as people use religion, and their belief as a means of hope (unrelated, however, the No Fun at All track “Believers” comes to mind).
Track seven, “Kyoto Now!” to me has always related to the Kyoto Protocol. I’d add the entire lyrics, however I’ll just link to them, and quote selectively.
The song starts,
It’s a matter of prescience,
No, not the science fiction kind.
It’s all about ignorance,
And greed and miracles for the blind.
The media parading, disjointed politics
Founded on petrochemical plunder,
And we’re its hostages.
“Don’t allow this mythologic hopeful monster to exact its price.” This could be the oil industry, or anyone against the Kyoto Protocol, and against fighting global warming in general. Someone wrote about George W. Bush and his administraton, “disjointed politics” works well here.
“You might not think it matters now, but what if you are wrong?” More punk rock wisdom, “you might not think there’s any wisdom in a fucked up punk rock song.” “But the way it is cannot persist for long”. Followed by a line I very much like, “A brutal sun is rising on a sick horizon.”
The final lines from the next verse end with “it’s never really what you own, but what you threw away. And how much did you pay?” Clearly referencing, how material our society is. Finally, another good line, “the arid torpor of inaction will be our demise.” Oh, and “Kyoto Now!”.
Refer to “Unacceptable” (from Against the Grain by Bad Religion) for another punk track ahead of its time, and society at large really. Also, No Use for a Name’s 1993 song, “Until It’s Gone.”
Track eight, “Sorrow”, the one that was released as a single, and a video was made for, slows the tempo down again. A very good track. Some noteworthy lines, “what if every living soul could be upright and strong?”. Also
When all soldiers lay their weapons down
Or when all kings and all queens relinquish their crowns.
Skipping to track eleven, “The Defense”, possibly a track relating to the fear placed upon the American society. I just thought of that based on “mass paranoia is a mode, not a malady.” It continues “yeah, I’d like to watch a thousand cable channels but there’s nothing on. And my high speed connection’s monitored daily by the Pentagon.”
Track twelve feels as if it brings the optimism back, after the track about fear, and being a satirical piece how it sucks to be alive with all this fear. The song structure is basically verse, chorus, verse, chorus, chorus, chorus. Of course it does not really matter. My reasoning being how Bad Religion is a huge aspect about the message. Of course the music has to be good for people to pay attention and listen. As this review is a fair amount about lyrics and the messages within.
Track thirteen felt to me like a track penned by Brett, and surely Wikipedia says so. Even though I am not sure their source, aside from perhaps BR fans that scour interviews, and the like for who wrote what (thebrpage also lists who wrote what). As the album liner notes state all songs by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz. Anyway, I find it funny I thought that as I rarely pay attention to who wrote what.
Track fourteen, “Bored & Extremely Dangerous” very well could be about the loners, and folks with too much time on their hands that will eventually explode in one way or another. Think school shootings as well, nerds having their revenge for example.
“Shattered Faith”, which appears on the single for “Broken” in Australia and Japan, is a song I have not heard too much. I find it does not fit too well with the rest of “The Process of Belief”. Possibly since I have heard the album so many times without it, yet I still think it is different. It clocks in at 3:58, so a lot could be said lyrically and musically, but I will not.
To conclude, if you are looking for a fast paced punk rock album, this would definitely be a good choice. If you want to follow along with the lyrics, and think while you are at it, this fits that bill too!