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How Could Hell Be Any Worse?

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Album Review

Listening to Bad Religion's 1982 debut , How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, is like cupping your ear against the garage door of their practice space. Greg Graffin's vocal style isn't fully formed here, nor is his lyrical agenda, but the building blocks are significant and affecting, bigger than piles of collapsed cathedrals. Indeed, "Voice of God Is Government" begins with a caustic caricature of the money-grubbing preacher, who assures that donations will be used to "censor TV and radio, ban questionable books, and contribute to many other Godly services." Snotty punk then crumbles into accelerated, anthemic hardcore. The subtle "We're Only Gonna Die" opens the album; the piano and acoustic guitar midsection is a nice foil for the youthful anger in the vocal and its crackling lead guitar riff, a sound and tone that would only become more refined and powerful with consecutive '80s outings. "F**k Armageddon...This Is Hell" is another highlight, with its tense, urgent opening instrumental section and Graffin's Southern California-centric rail against throat-choking smog.

Biography

Formed: 1980 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Out of all of the Southern Californian hardcore punk bands of the early '80s, Bad Religion stayed around the longest. For over a decade, they retained their underground credibility without turning out a series of indistinguishable records that all sound the same. Instead, the band refined its attack, adding inflections of psychedelia, heavy metal, and hard rock along the way, as well as a considerable dose of melody. Between their 1982 debut and their first major-label record, 1993's Recipe for Hate,...
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