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How Could Hell Be Any Worse? [Bonus Tracks]

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Bad Religion 4/6/2004

Review

This 2004 version of Bad Religion's 1982 debut takes the place of 80-85, which had previously accounted for the group's earliest output. Fully remastered (as Epitaph has done for a bulk of early BR releases), the set includes the first LP's full track listing, as well as the first three EPs. The expanded booklet features a full lyric sheet, reprints of the EP cover art, and a great photo collage that's as informative a scene history as any wordy liner retrospective would be. The energy in those photos of sweaty, awkward teenage kids gathering in well-lit rooms to play music and dance is correspondent to the music itself, which puts Bad Religion's initial forays toward hardcore and punk into tense, buzzing relief. Listening to 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. "Fuck 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. Longtime fans will love the inclusion of the early EPs, cleaned up a bit to reveal even more of the group's gritty hardcore genesis. Varying sonic signatures define the swaggering theme "Bad Religion," "Slaves," and the cynically prescient suicide meditation "Drastic Actions," which appear multiple times over the two earliest recordings. The 1984 EP's "Frogger," while not the early Bad Religion's finest moment, might be one of this collection's most important statements since its aggressive blend of rabid rat race disgust and reference contemporary to the era -- complete with tinny video game sample -- illustrates the visceral power of music made by and for youth. ~ Johnny Loftus
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 We're Only Gonna Die Bad Religion 2:12
  3. 2 Latch Key Kids Bad Religion 1:36
  4. 3 Part III Bad Religion 1:47
  5. 4 Faith in God Bad Religion 1:49
  6. 5 Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell Bad Religion 2:49
  7. 6 Pity Bad Religion 2:0
  8. 7 In the Night Bad Religion 3:24
  9. 8 Damned to Be Free Bad Religion 1:57
  10. 9 White Trash (Second Generation) Bad Religion 2:19
  11. 10 American Dream Bad Religion 1:37
  12. 11 Eat Your Dog Bad Religion 1:2
  13. 12 Voice of God Is Goverment Bad Religion 2:52
  14. 13 Oligarchy Bad Religion 1:0
  15. 14 Doing Time Bad Religion 3:0
  16. 15 Bad Religion Bad Religion 1:49
  17. 16 Politics Bad Religion 1:20
  18. 17 Sensory Overload Bad Religion 1:30
  19. 18 Slaves Bad Religion 1:18
  20. 19 Drastic Actions Bad Religion 2:37
  21. 20 World War III Bad Religion 0:53
  22. 21 Yesterday Bad Religion 2:38
  23. 22 Frogger Bad Religion 1:18
  24. 23 Bad Religion Bad Religion 2:9
  25. 24 Along the Way Bad Religion 1:36
  26. 25 New Leaf Bad Religion 2:53
  27. 26 Bad Religion Bad Religion 1:44
  28. 27 Slaves Bad Religion 1:5
  29. 28 Drastic Actions Bad Religion 2:32

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