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Every Bad Religion Album Ranked Worst to Best

Bad Religion rose to prominence in the ’80s through genre defining (and sometimes defying) work, then lost key members in the ’90s, leading to less than stellar output, and rose like a Phoenix in the 2000s with the returning member creating an unprecedented three guitar lineup in punk, alongside genre-defining work once again. Led by the indomitable spirit of Dr. “Human Thesaurus” Greg Graffin on lead vocals and shrewd businessman Brett Gurewitz as guitarist/co-songwriter, with assists from longtime bassist Jay Bentley, and a rotating door of some of the best guitarists and drummers in punk including living legend Brian Baker, this ever expanding group of Punk Rock raconteurs both helped define melodic punk, and have been stalwarts of the genre for longer than many bands and musicians typical lifespans.

So it’s only natural for someone looking for the good stuff in an expansive career to come to The Hard Times, arbiters of albums, for a definitive listing. So without further ado, Wacho!

17. The New America (2000)

Bad Religion’s 20th anniversary coronation was a rhubarb crown of raw mediocrity. Plagued with mid-tempo songs , and produced by Greg Graffin’s idol turned nemesis Todd Rundgren, Bad Religion entered the new millennium sounding like a band long past their prime, and even longtime fan Fat Mike hated this album. Only listen to it if you have a thing for masochistic punishment.

Play it Again: “Believe It” (well it paved the way for Brett to return, so you better “Believe It”)
Skip it (and for the Love of God burn with fire): “I Love My Computer”

16. No Substance (1998)

But even if you are into such masochistic punishment, you’d be better served by looking at the album cover for previous release “No Substance.” And there’s no substance indeed on this album, with uninspired songwriting and barely audible vocals, this album is more useful in cd form as a surface to snort shitty, stepped on coke off of, adding substance, but who buys cds anymore?

Play it Again: “No Substance”
Skip it: “Hear it” (we’d rather not either)


15. Age of Unreason (2019)

First album to feature fedora mummy/charisma vacuum Mike Dimkich replacing long time axeman Greg Hetson, and Jaime Miller replacing Brooks Wackerman when he got a pay raise via membership in a bigger band (Avenged Sevenfold). This album contains some rock-solid Bad Religion songs while breaking no new ground for the band as a whole, like a comfortable but too familiar long term relationship. Maybe the band should have joined the Navy after “True North” after all.

Play it Again: “My Sanity”
Skip it: “Lose Your Head”

14. The Dissent of Man (2010)

Written following the second coming of Brett, and their second holy trinity (“Process of Belief,” “Empire Strikes First,” and “New Maps of Hell”), to keep things fresh for the album, the band collectively agreed to use less big fancy school words,and instead settled on using clever wordplay and alliteration instead. Not classic quality, not shitshow, a nonchalant release that’s a notch above the rest, but faaarrrr from second (or even third of fourth best), thus begins the notation of mid-level “Bad Religion” releases.

Play It Again: “Meeting of the Minds”
Skip it: “Avalon”

13. Recipe For Hate (1993)

Home to mega single “American Jesus,” the fan favorite title track and soulful ballad “Struck a Nerve” (dat guitar solo, Greg Hetson you’re in rare form, chef’s kiss). The rest of the album is a mix of attempts to add variety to the Bad Religion formula, ranging from the catchy, slinky alternative rock of “All Good Soldiers” to the cold and lifeless “Kerosene” (keeps me warm my ass, I’d rather rely on global warming).

Play it again: “Struck a Nerve” and “Recipe for Hate”
Skip it: “Kerosene”


12. The Gray Race (1996)

The First Bad Religion release without the songwriting duo of Graffin/Gurewitz, and the first album with punk legend Brian Baker on guitar, this mostly solid selection of songs fooled both the band and the general public into thinking that the band would be just fine without Brett. And while the good songs on this album are pretty sweet, Greg Graffin was starting to noticeably drag without his songwriting partner, leading to this mixed bag of “Punk Rock Songs.”

Play It Again: “10 in 2010” (or 24 in 2024 if you wanted to feel old)
Skip it: “Victory”

11. Into the Unknown (1983)

Deciding to make a record that would piss off their fans (as was the style at the time), Bad Religion decided to make a space rock record, which was so derided at the time that it made Jay Bentley quit the band, and it’s the only album he doesn’t play on (he later rejoined when the band disowned the album). Existing as a legend for the longest time, since the band refused to repress, reissue or recognize this album until 2010, and it’s a shame, because this album rules. The black sheep of Bad Religion’s Discography, filled with bouncy synth’s, concept songs, and lyrics that look to the sky instead of the world around them, bringing listeners “Into the Unknown.” together.

Play It Again: “The Dichotomy”
Skip It: “Chasing the Wild Goose”

10. New Maps of Hell (2007)

This album features some live staples, the shortest song of their career in the aptly titled “52 Seconds,” and continued the general hot streak of 2000s Bad Religion. Plus “New Maps of Hell” ended up being a Nostrodomausly accurate description of post 2020s Earth. We’d say more about this record but we need to research them to discover if hell could be any worse, answering the age-old question for punks young and old once and for all.

Play It Again: “Heroes and Martyrs”
Skip it: “Murder”


9. Against the Grain (1990)

Some would say that it’s blasphemous to rank this part of the Bad Religion “Holy Trinity” (the other two being “Suffer” and “No Control”), but this is a Hard Times ranking of a band with a literal “crossbuster” for a logo, so a little blasphemy is par for the course. But hey it’s an album so good that the worst song on it became not only a minor radio hit, but a live staple, and virtually every song going through the live rotation at some point in time, and even features punk legend Keith Morris on backing vocals for one song, so not bad for the worst of holy trinity after all.

Play it Again: “Operation Rescue”
Skip it: “21st Century Digital Boy” (because you’ve heard it too many times before)

8. True North (2013)

Late Career Bad Religion once again showing you young whippersnappers how it’s done, adding yet another revolutionary album into an already legendary career. This album also served as the first to feature longtime guitarist/co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz on lead vocals for one track, to pretty rad results, and the last to feature longtime guitarist/hype man Greg Hetson, and drum Satan Brooks Wackerman, who left for more Satanic territory.

Play It Again: “True North” (but really the first half of this album has no skips)
Skip It: “Popular Consensus”

7. The Empire Strikes First (2004)

Hot off the release of “Process of Belief,” Bad Religion was firing on all cylinders. Fueled by the burgeoning anti-Iraq War movement, Bad Religion released yet another banger of a punk record that was not only instant classic, but genre pushing. Instrumental march intros, guest rappers (and they said “Into the Unknown” was weird, pffft), and riffs and solos that would make any NWOBHM fan cream their leather pants, this album proved that Bad Religion were a timeless punk band.

Play It Again: “Sinister Rouge”
Skip It: “Live Again (The Fall of Man)”

6. How Could Hell Be Any Worse (1982)

An album that’s older than most of our readers. It was written, recorded and released when the band was still in high school, Bad Religion’s debut was pure, raw hardcore goodness with a beautiful sense of melody, courtesy of a pubescent Greg Graffin’s more nasal delivery compared to future releases. Establishing the band’s sound and satirically cynical but equally brilliant take on the world around them, inspiring hundreds if not thousands of snot-nosed punks to do their best preacher impression to this day!

Play it Again: “We’re Only Gonna Die”
Skip it: “Sensory Overload” (we get frazzled too easily these days)

5. Stranger Than Fiction (1994)

Despite the title, this was not a mid 2000s Will Ferrell comedy, but Bad Religion’s (Gasp) major label debut, leading to many fans uttering the now antiquated cry of “sell out” accusations against the band. But within under 5 seconds, you not only realize how wrong they were, but that the band was sounding meaner and punker than ever, truly going “Against the Grain.” Unfortunately this would also be the last Bad Religion album of the 20th century to feature guitarist/co-songwriter Brett Gurewitz, as he left the band within a fortnight of its release to focus running the then-booming Epitaph record label, leaving an unfillable gap in the songwriting team.

Play it Again: “Incomplete” (RIP Wayne Kramer, who guests on this track)
Skip it: “21st Century Digital Boy” (they already recorded it once, so why would you listen again)

4. Generator (1992)

Released after the fall of the Berlin Wall and after the rise of grunge, this album saw Bad Religion march confidently into the ’90s with no small aid from powerhouse new guy on drums Bobby Schayer. Demonstrating that the band were more then one trick pony, “Generator” saw the band breaking new ground by slowing some their songs down and adding more varied songwriting, since they weren’t spring chickens, but fine roosters, worthy of the Fenix TX song. For Bad Religion, and the ’90s seemed like a time where humanity had a fertile plot and a party that would never stop…

Play It Again: “Atomic Garden”
Skip It: “Two Babies in the Dark”

3. The Process of Belief (2002)

…until tragedy struck on 9/11, and thus the world was once again steeped in turmoil. Fear, uncertainty and ennui ensued, but just as luck would have it, Bad Religion, once again not only blessed with a, pardon our pun, new power “Generator” drummer in young gun Brooks Wackerman, but the “Return of the King,” one year before its scheduled box office release when Brett Gurewitz returned to the band (if only a glorified studio guy). The combined reunion of the Lennon/McCartney of punk, mixed with a youngblood drummer sacrifice conjured one of the best Rock’n’Roll COMEBACKS of all time, leaving to an album full of some of the most poignant, energetic and straight up soulful songs of their career, and low key some of the best punk guitar work this side of Thrice’s “The Illusion of Safety”.

Play it Again: “Kyoto Now” and “Materialist”
Skip It: “Broken”

2. No Control (1989)

The kids these days with their Sum 41s, in my day we had Bad Religion’s “No Control,” an album that was both a full “Half Hour of Power” AND “All Killer No Filler.” Lightning fast all the way through with mid-tempo songs that the band was legally obliged to provide, lest they be sued if a fan “Suffered” a heart attack while listening. Fun fact this album has such raw adrenaline contained within, it directly led to decline of cocaine use into the ’90s, since buying this record is cheaper, and a renewable source of adrenaline.

Play it Again: We don’t want to, just, juuuusssstt one more time man!
Skip it: Upon further listening no, we won’t skip it

1. Suffer (1988)

This album dictated the shape of punk to come, before “the Shape of Punk to Come” (Refused) was released, back when punk was still punk. From the rip roaring “You Are the Government”, the Slacker anthem of “What Can You Do,” and the satanic sounding chant of the title track’s bridge (which becomes a different language with enough LSD) “Suffer” perfecting the blend of melodic and hardcore (resulting in melodic hardcore). Hell, they even innovated the one two three four count up to TEN on “Part 2 (The Numbers Game),” and bands for generations continue to generate songs that shoot for, but never reach the heights of this record!

Play it Again: “The Masses of Humanity” have always had to suffer, so yes.
Skip It: Since you’ve blown your mind, and thus chosen to resign, you gotta listen once again (checkmate punks).