At a time when punk was viewed as degenerate youth causing mayhem and destroying the moral fabric of society, a band popped up in the genre that helped revolutionise the scene. Bad Religion took that raw energy and channelled it to evoke social commentary, and awareness of the world around us. Heavy in political themes, high in intelligence and some of the best hooks and harmonies ever performed, Bad Religion are this year celebrating thirty years of making music.
Thirty Years Live sees the band attempt to capture their career in the space of forty five minutes. Impossible, you may say, and if given the chance you could pack in three hours of Bad Religion classics and still only scratch the surface. What the band have done here is offer this up as a free subscription download through www.badreligion.com; a treat for the fans who have supported them through three decades. Focusing on tracks from the last few releases, the band still deliver gems like ‘Fuck Armageddon… This is Hell’, ‘Suffer’, ‘Flat Earth Society’ and ‘American Jesus’.
Recording as a six piece and playing live as a five piece, the newer tracks still have the Bad Religion trademark sound all over them: melodic punk rock with a message and a purpose. Greg Graffin will continue to increase your vocabulary with words you’ve never used and the guitars are still tight and precise as they’ve always been. While the band’s best work comes from the albums released in the ’90s (Against The Grain, Generator, Recipe For Hate, Stranger Than Fiction et al.), tracks like ‘New Maps From Hell’ and ‘Social Suicide’ stand up alongside the classics.
Bad Religion have achieved something only a handful of groups in music today can say they have achieved. A thirty year career without commercial success, they are not a cliche or a laughing stock. They don’t rest on their glory days but continue to release relevant albums on a consistent basis and this year will see their fifteenth studio album drop. Bad Religion are icons. The Sex Pistols may have brought punk to the world. Joe Strummer will always be the godfather, but Bad Religion are the yardstick that every band past, present and future will measure themselves against in terms of song writing, music, success and longevity. Thirty Years Live is just the flag upon the mountain that is Bad Religion.