...the best of [their songs] compress provocative ideas about self-esteem, fate and personal responsibility into brash, blistering, exceedingly tuneful polemics..."
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Based on only one or two listens to The Process of Belief, one would be tempted to retitle it The Process of Backsliding. It's like a batch of outtakes from their 1988 comeback LP, Suffer, or the amazing juggernauts that followed, No Control and Against the Grain. But successive immersions into the new LP's brute, lashing power and wild honey melodies disarms such critical impulses as efficiently as a martial arts master. Regression rarely feels this fresh or this welcome. For anyone who forgot how much had been absent without Brett Gurewitz, The Process of Belief radiates his singular seasoning in technicolor. First, with him back in the fold, Greg Graffin need only compose seven ace songs instead of 14 like the previous three LPs. A higher quality control results, as well as the rediscovered compliment of Gurewitz's searing tunes with Graffin's pop hooks. One also notes the lustrous sound of Gurewitz's backing vocals, once again meshed with Graffin's in the kind of familiar near-perfection that has signaled the best harmony teams: a sound so pleasing and comfortable it drives the chorus melodies and the "ooohs and ahhhs" much deeper, like a stake into the heart. Third is the more clearly-pointed edge of the band's attack, clearly captured by Gurewitz's bursting production. And once one gets used to the late-'80s feel and chalks it up to a pardonable retrench, there isn't a bad moment in The Process' 37 minutes. No sooner does one "supersonic" hook subside than another -- like the frantic, frenetic, kinetic "Prove It" -- relieves it. The old dog didn't need any new tricks, it just needed to race like a real greyhound again. The Process of Belief earns its hopeful title, and it's a short process towards complete and utter conviction.