28 Songs, 55 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

How Could Hell Be Any Worse? was an impressively realized debut for a group that was barely out of high school at the time of its recording. Part of Bad Religion’s seasoning came from having already recorded a demo and an EP in advance of its full-length debut. That first EP—1981’s Bad Religion—is included in the bonus tracks of this set, as is 1984’s Return to the Known, another abbreviated album that served as a statement of purpose for the young band. At a time when Southern California hardcore was turning increasingly nihilistic, Bad Religion represented a new form of conviction in intellectualism. The songs here are primarily biting satires of American oppression, with a particular focus on the hypocrisy of imperialism and religion. While the band was as fast and brutal as the meanest California hardcore outfits, something in Greg Graffin’s voice was warm and wise—a cross between Joe Strummer and a young Neil Diamond. Meanwhile, the chiming acoustic guitars and pianos of “We’re Only Gonna Die” showed the band’s willingness to look beyond punk’s codes to illuminate the movement's true values.

EDITORS’ NOTES

How Could Hell Be Any Worse? was an impressively realized debut for a group that was barely out of high school at the time of its recording. Part of Bad Religion’s seasoning came from having already recorded a demo and an EP in advance of its full-length debut. That first EP—1981’s Bad Religion—is included in the bonus tracks of this set, as is 1984’s Return to the Known, another abbreviated album that served as a statement of purpose for the young band. At a time when Southern California hardcore was turning increasingly nihilistic, Bad Religion represented a new form of conviction in intellectualism. The songs here are primarily biting satires of American oppression, with a particular focus on the hypocrisy of imperialism and religion. While the band was as fast and brutal as the meanest California hardcore outfits, something in Greg Graffin’s voice was warm and wise—a cross between Joe Strummer and a young Neil Diamond. Meanwhile, the chiming acoustic guitars and pianos of “We’re Only Gonna Die” showed the band’s willingness to look beyond punk’s codes to illuminate the movement's true values.

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