Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 15
  2. Negative: 1 out of 15
  1. The Empire Strikes First isn't a return to Bad Religion at its most vitriolic and unstoppable -- whether that could ever really happen is unclear, and probably unnecessary.
  2. Despite Graffin and Gurewitz's intelligence and historical awareness, their artistic vision here suffers from oversimplification.
  3. One of its most charged and inspired records in years.
  4. A thrill from first to last. [Aug 2004, p.106]
  5. 80
    This is the band at their melodious best. [Jun 2004, p.112]
  6. Bad Religion sound more relevant than ever on their incendiary, political manifesto The Empire Strikes First.
  7. 91
    Good records from the Descendents and Bad Religion in one year? Joe Strummer's ghost must be keeping close watch. [Jul 2004, p.110]
  8. This is by no means a ‘bad’ album... and you’ll be hard-pushed to find a more topical anti-Bush punk album released this year, but after 20+ years and umpteen albums that - lets face it - haven’t really strayed much from their influential style, does anyone really need another Bad Religion album after this one?
  9. The songs have the urgency and vitriol we've come to expect from the band, but there's one major problem: the spit shine production. [Jul 2004, p.128]
  10. The album is not a total loss, however. When Bad Religion turn to more interesting subject matter, the results are more than worthwhile.
  11. 70
    Angrier than ever, Bad Religion aim punk's adolescent fury at grownup targets. [Jun/Jul 2004, p.134]
  12. 80
    As potent and timely as anything it released during the Reagan era. [#64, p.83]
  13. Even if some tracks unfold more like political manifestos than songs, Bad Religion has succeeded in expressing its outrage more eloquently while sustaining its musical muscle over the years. [6 Jun 2004]
  14. While not as edgy as The Process of Belief, it is more complex and better produced.

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