Review Summary: Bad Religion celebrates 30 years of excellent punk rock with a free live album that covers a few classics, a few songs that are rarely played live, and two brand new tracks.
Has it actually been thirty years since Bad Religion formed? It seems crazy to think that they’ve really been around for that long, but it’s true. During that time they’ve released fourteen studio albums and toured the world multiple times, but more importantly they’ve helped to teach a generation of kids to question things in an intelligent manner. Greg’s thought-provoking lyrics and Brett’s quick & catchy riffs combined to create a voice for quite a few kids that never really latched on to the focused anger of hardcore or the shallow confines of mainstream rock – and they’re currently doing it again for a whole new generation. Some might think that after thirty years the band would simply be going through the motions or barely be able to play the fast-paced songs that are a staple of just about every Bad Religion album, but they’d be wrong. If there was ever any doubt about this band and what they’re still capable of, 30 Years Live
makes it very obvious that Bad Religion are still at the top of their game and thankful to every fan that has made it possible.
30 Years Live
is seventeen songs of fast-paced punk rock that pulls from just about every era of the band’s history without simply rehashing 2006’s Live at the Palladium
. In fact there are more than a few surprises here including “Flat Earth Society”, “Marked” and “Man With a Mission”. “Man With a Mission”, in particular, seems as if it should be a part of the band’s regular set list because it simply shines behind the force of all three guitar players and those perfect vocal harmonies. In fact, all of the songs seem to benefit from the fuller, more powerful sound that that having three guitar players allows. One of the main draws of this album, though, is the playing of drummer Brooks Wackerman. Hearing him put his own personal spin on those older tracks gives them a life and energy that they never had with the simplistic style of Pete Finestone (or the lethargic plod of Bobby Schayer). As if that wasn’t enough, the band has also included two songs from their upcoming fifteenth album. The tracks are “Resist Stance” and “Won’t Somebody” and I won’t go into too much detail because I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but… Ok, there are no surprises. They’re your typical Bad Religion songs and sound like they could be on any of the last three albums, but they’re great and have me excited for the new album.
With an in-your-face sound, crystal-clear production and a varied song selection, this is about as good as it gets. The band sound re-energized (often playing songs faster than their studio counterparts – just listen to “American Jesus”), and were cool enough to include tracks that almost never get played live. Of course, with 14 albums all averaging 15 songs each, there is definitely going to be some complaining about certain songs being omitted, but with such a huge discography the band were never going to make everyone happy in that way. It doesn’t matter, though, because there are plenty of other reasons to be happy including the fact that the whole damn thing is free from the band’s website.