Bad Religion, roughly 30 years ago.
Punk Rock with a thesaurus.
Bad Religion is a very influential punk rock band from the United States of America, founded in 1980 in Southern California. The original members were Jay Bentley (bass), Greg Graffin (vocals), Brett Gurewitz (guitars), and Jay Ziskrout, who was quickly replaced by Peter Finestone (drums). In the spirit of the Do-It-Yourself ethic held by the punk scene at the time, Gurewitz created Epitaph Records soon after their formation, and most of the band's albums have since been released through this label.
The band is known for its particulary clever use of metaphor, style and vocabulary in the lyrics, as well as their peculiar vocal harmonies. Lyrics are often about philosophical, social or political concerns and tend to be critical, sarcastic, and often times harsh. Song writing is usually done between Graffin and Gurewitz, except for the period of time when the band left Epitaph for the major label Atlantic Records (1993 - 2001). During this period, Graffin took on sole song writing duties (excluding their major label debut Stranger than Fiction
, which was the last album Guerwitz appeared on until 2002). For the album No Substance
, generally considered among the band's weakest entries, song writing responsibilities were shared among the other band members. Since Gurewitz's return, he and Graffin have resumed their original song writing duties.
Bad Religion's current lineup consists of Graffin (vocals), Gurewitz (guitars), Bentley (bass), Greg Hetson—formerly of The Circle Jerks (guitars), Brian Baker (guitars), and Brooks Wackerman (drums). Bobby Schayer was their drummer for much of their Atlantic period, but left the band after suffering a shoulder injury.
- How Could Hell Be Any Worse? (1982)
- Into the Unknown (1983)
- Suffer (1988)
- No Control (1989)
- Against the Grain (1990)
- Generator (1992)
- Recipe for Hate (1993)
- Stranger Than Fiction (1994)
- The Gray Race (1996)
- No Substance (1998)
- The New America (2000)
- The Process of Belief (2002)
- The Empire Strikes First (2004)
- New Maps of Hell (2007)
- The Dissent of Man (2010)
- True North (2013)
- Ac CENT Upon The Wrong Syl LA Ble: Lots. A few examples from "Parallel": "Phony COLLective progess, ACCepting that it's all such a mess", and in the background, "our lives are paralLEL"... later, "watching as our FOUNdations crumble away"
- Album Title Drop: Most of their albums are named after one of the songs on it.
- One exception, The Process of Belief, is named for a line from the song "Materialist".
- Audience Participation Song: "Sorrow"
- Author Tract: Although not in a bad way.
- Badass Teacher: Graffin. He's taught university classes at Cornell and UCLA
- Belief Makes You Stupid
- Call Back: How Could Hell Be Any Worse? is Title Dropped in "Los Angeles is Burning", over two decades later.
- Both No Control and Suffer are mentioned in "21st Century (Digital Boy)" on Against the Grain.
- Canon Discontinuity: Into The Unknown — after disappointing sales, it wasn't acknowledged or reissued until it was included in a compilation 27 years later.
- Corrupt Church: "Sinister Rouge", among others.
- Crapsack World: "Leaders and Followers", among others.
- Date My Avatar: song "I love my computer" rolls with this. "...'cause you are just a number and a clever screen name."
- Deadpan Snarker: Graffin's lyrics are usually this (Brett's not so much). Which is strange, because in-person, he's actually pretty laid back and mellowed-out.
- God Is Evil: And what I'm frightened of is that they call it "God's Love"...
- "Skyscraper", which tells the Tower of Babel myth from the perspective of the builders.
- God Is Inept: "Better Off Dead", which is basically God apologizing for creating such a Crapsack World.
- On the other hand, it may also be a sarcastic reply to people who constantly complain about living in a Crapsack World.
- Gratuitous German: "Punk Rock Song"
- New Sound Album: Into the Unknown is a Progressive Rock album. According to Mr. Brett, "not much thought" was put into the album's recording, and the change of style was due to the fact that the band didn't take itself seriously and thought it wouldn't last for very long, so they decided to try and explore some other styles. Two of the members, drummer Pete Finestone and bass player Jay Bentley, quit before the album was recorded because of the change, and the album was met with a great deal of negativity from the fans who embraced the band's previous Hardcore Punk sound; only 12 people showed up to see the band introduce the new material. As a result of the poor reception of this material by fans, this album is somewhat considered Old Shame by the band members, who named their next release (which returned to Hardcore Punk) Back to the Known. Despite the commercial failure and fan backlash of the album, it actually got positive reviews from critics, and was reissued on vinyl as part of the 30 Years of Bad Religion box set, although it's never been released on CD.
- While most of their albums tended to have their trademark sound, various added elements throughout (mostly based on the time)
- Generator featured experimentation (epically with songs like Two Babies in the Dark)
- Recipe for Hate added Alternative Rock and grunge elements (that got refined in their next few albums)
- The New America feature far more personal lyrics and somewhat more poppy sound
- New Maps of Hell is by far their heaviest albums, bordering on Alternative Metal
- Internalized Categorism: The song "Broken" brings up the danger of putting people down, that they might start believing it themselves.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally a 5 or 6. With a couple songs (such as "Slumber" and "Sorrow") being a 4.
- Protest Song: Almost everything they play.
- Religion Rant Song: They have lots of these, which comes as a total surprise given their band name.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Lots of songs, but "Germs of Perfection" is the most blatant example.
- "Beyond Electric Dreams" is another.
- It's really easier to list the Bad Religion songs this trope doesn't apply to. The quality of their lyrics is often half attributed to the fact that they pull out interesting vocabulary and find a way to work it into conventional pop rhyme schemes.
- Apparently, sometime after Mr. Brett left the band, he'd mock the band for being "the rotting corpse of thesaurus rock" (which was definitely classier than Greg Graffin changing a lyric in Mr. Brett's song Stranger than Fiction to make fun of Guerwitz's struggle with drug addiction whenever it was performed live).
- Shout-Out: Lots of them. For example, in the song "You," the line "there's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend" is taken from "We Can Work It Out".
- The Something Song: "God Song", "Punk Rock Song"
- Spelling Song: "The Empire Strikes First"
- The Man Is Sticking It to the Man: Subverted by guitarist/main songwriter Mr. Brett, who owns the record label the band is signed to, but refused multiple offers to sell to a major record label. He even left the band during their years with Atlantic Records. Of course, given that The Offspring were making Epitaph Records tons of money during this time, he probably didn't need to.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Brett Gurewitz. Subverted in which not everyone uses "Mr. Brett" (which in itself is a subversion, in combining the trope with First Name Basis), and he himself doesn't seem to mind.
- Verbal Tic: Before a solo, Greg tends to yell "One two!" or "Let's go!"
- War Is Hell: "Heaven is Falling"
- A Wild Rapper Appears: Sage Francis, making a guest appearance on "Let Them Eat War".