Year 4, Day 12: Bad Religion – Suffer
- You Are (The Government)
- 1000 More Fools
- How Much Is Enough?
- Give You Nothing
- Land of Competition
- Forbidden Beast
- Best for You
- Delirium of Disorder
- Part II (The Numbers Game)
- What Can You Do?
- Do What You Want
- Part IV (The Index Fossil)
- Pessimistic Lines
About the Album
Suffer is the third studio album from American punk band, Bad Religion. The album was recorded in April of 1988 and released on September 8th 1988 through Epitaph Records. The records is considered widely by most to be one of the most important and quintessential punk albums of all time.
Thoughts on the Album
Many believe and think that punk died along with hardcore back in the early to mid 1980s. Many a music historian and internet commentor alike argue and debate about this every topic. But punk is constantly evolving, much like the every democracy that our government started as. Nothing stays the same forever. So, blink and you’ll miss it. That’s how fast this album is. Only four songs on today’s album are over two minutes in length… and three of them are barely over two minutes. That said, today’s album is one of the most influential punk albums ever… of all time: it’s Bad Religion‘s 1988 release, Suffer.
One of the main reasons people (mainly conservatives) have issues with the messages that punk music sends, is because they believe that the message is being made by an uneducated individual. Also because most of the time the message is liberal in political leaning. As well as most of the punk following (audience) seems be made of of crass, brash, and often drunk individuals. But what Suffer does is takes that laughable excuse of following, flips it on it’s head, and turns it into an album that carries a distinguished concept with such dexterity and unrelenting velocity and fury. My first time listening to this album as a teenager, the music hit me so fast that I was playing catch up right from the get go. The music on this album demands it’s listener to understand the message it carries. It also demands that listeners consider the thematic displays of pent-up rage.
This album has some serious velocity to it, clocking in at roughly 26 minutes (25:41) in length. It took me a few times of listening all the way through to figure out everything. Every song, every riff, chord, groove sounds eerily and almost dead similar to the next track on the album. I did that for one of the my favorite tunes off the record, the lead off track, You Are (The Government). The track clocks in at a wickedly fast 73 seconds.
This album is essentially the blueprint for west coast skate-punk. Every track on this album is loud, angry, straight-ahead, and catchy as all hell. One of the most surprising things about the album, is that the subject matter of most of the tracks seems almost just as if not more pertinent today than it was in 1988. You hear this in the tracks in songs like You Are (The Government), 1000 More Fools, What Can You Do?
One of the amazing things about this album is that the lyrics are incredibly written… like they were just strangled from a thesaurus. Most bands have problems when it comes to this style of lyrics. Most come off as pretentious or arrogant; but Bad Religion pulls off perfectly. Check it out for yourself on the track You Are (The Government):
Hey sit down and listen and they’ll tell you when you’re wrong.
Eradicate but vindicate as “progress” creeps along.
Puritan work ethic maintains its subconscious edge
As Old Glory maintains your consciousness.
There’s a loser in the house, and a puppet on the stool,
And a crowded way of life, and a black reflecting pool,
And as the people bend, the moral fabric dies,
The country can’t pretend to ignore its people’s cries.
You are the government.
You are jurisprudence.
You are the volition.
You are jurisdiction.
And I make a difference too.
If none of this makes any sense to you, well you will just have to buy the album to understand. It’s an unbeatable hardcore punk singer combined with one of the most melodic, riff-ridden hardcore bands. That is the only way I can describe frontman Greg Graffin’s voice. While most punk music is repetitive. nowhere on this album does it get repetitive or cheesy or annoying. Greg Graffin has some important stuff to say and that it should be thought about and never forgotten. If you are an English major, I dare you to put your skills as a student of English to the test and listen to 1000 More Fools.
The masses are obsequious
contented in their sleep
the vortex of their minds ensconced within
the murky deep.
And that’s just an excerpt.
It’s very rare that I write 1000+ words about my favorite albums. I’m generally a big believer in economy and efficiency. But not with this album. Nope. I felt obligated to explain myself even more than usually for selecting this album. I mean even the conclusion is long. But that said…
So, if you really aren’t a fan of punk music you have to be asking: “Hey Brian, how is this album one of the most significant albums in punk?” It’s the most important punk album because it brought about the revival of punk music in the 1980s and 1990s and forced the genre of punk to evolve in a sensible way.
Every song on this album is necessary. What I mean by that is, each track not only compliments one another, but each track flows into the next on perfectly and meshes like a world caliber championship team. It’s fast-paced, distorted, in-your-face, and all high point. This album was perfect back in 1988 and is still perfect almost 30 years later. It is a classic punk album that every fan of the genre (and rock in general) should listen to. It’s a genre defining album. A classic. But fair warning, it’s not for the faint of heart..