Bad Religion

How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, Suffer, No Control, Against the Grain, and Generator (Epitaph)

Reissues

Bad Religion

How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (Epitaph)

Bad Religion

Suffer (Epitaph)

Bad Religion

No Control (Epitaph)

Bad Religion

Against the Grain (Epitaph)

Bad Religion

Generator (Epitaph) Theirs has been the ultimate punk rock odyssey, from the pantheon of early Eighties hardcore to Nineties tours with the mainstream punkers they inspired, Green Day and Blink-182. Through it all, Bad Religion's articulate punk has remained über-melodic, yet brimming with a brainy vocabulary and heady social concepts, thanks to Professor Greg Graffin, Ph.D. Co-founder Brett Gurewitz's Epitaph Records has reissued the pre-major-label catalog, remastered with full lyrics, shunning only the 1983 anomaly Into the Unknown. How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, 1982's full-length debut, with EPs from 1981 to 1984 tacked on, is a carbon copy of the classic 80-85 comp. From desperate anthems "We're Only Gonna Die" and "Fuck Armageddon ... This Is Hell," to three different-speed versions of "Bad Religion," this is one for the ages, a more tuneful take on the angsty hardcore of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks, whose guitarist Greg Hetson would eventually join Bad Religion. The band reformed for Suffer, the '88 debut of the classic lineup and sound, and the beginning of a storied three-year trilogy. Unveiling their trademark "oozin' ahs," Suffer is a runaway locomotive, packed with buzzsaw guitars and two-minute detonations, setting the template for all the NOFX/Green Day pop-punk that blossomed years later. Under 30 minutes each, Suffer and '89's No Control are one unrelenting masterpiece. The latter tour de force unleashes the melodic tidal wave, confounding the kids with such phrases as "is your fecundity a trammel or a treasure?". 1990 brought Against the Grain, branching out into the passionate hard rock of later years, à la "21st Century (Digital Boy)," debuting in its definitive form. 1992's Generator finds the hyperharmonic apex with "Heaven Is Falling" and "Atomic Garden," yet with a comparatively weak middle. All told, a punk rock cornucopia.

(How Could Hell Be Any Worse?; Suffer; No Control) ****

(Against the Grain; Generator) ***.5

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