How Could Hell Be Any Worse?
11/30/82 – Epitaph Records
Producers Bad Religion
Greg Graffin – vocals
Brett Gurewitz – guitars
Jay Bentley – bass
Pete Finestone – drums on tracks 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 13
Jay Ziskrout – drums on tracks 2, 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14
Greg Hetson – guitar solo on track 3
01 – We’re Only Gonna Die (Greg Graffin) 2:12
02 – Latch Key Kids (Greg Graffin) 1:38
03 – Part III (Jay Bentley) 1:48
04 – Faith in God (Greg Graffin) 1:50
05 – Fuck Armageddon… This is Hell (Greg Graffin) 2:48
06 – Pity (Greg Graffin) 2:00
07 – In the Night (Brett Gurewitz) 3:25
08 – Damned to Be Free (Greg Graffin) 1:58
09 – White Trash (2nd Generation) (Brett Gurewitz) 2:21
10 – American Dream (Brett Gurewitz) 1:41
11 – Eat Your Dog (Greg Graffin) 1:04
12 – Voice of God is Government (Jay Bentley) 2:54
13 – Oligarchy (Brett Gurewitz) 1:01
14 – Doing Time (Brett Gurewitz) 3:00
I remember when I first heard about this album, I was hanging out with my Uncle Rick at his work, Fallbrook Mann Theatre, one Saturday afternoon. He had come to work with his hair bleached-blonde, and one of his coworkers, a guy named Jay was asking Rick how he got his hair so blonde. So, Rick tells him “it’s simple, I bleached it.”
Well, I came back the next day, Sunday, and I’m hanging out in my Uncle’s office, and he tells me that this coming Tuesday, Bad Religion’s new record was going to be out. My Uncle was friends with some of the guys from LADS, and the guys from Bad Religion. If memory serves, he went to El Camino with Jay Ziskrout and Jay Bentley for a year or so.
Anyway, in the middle of this conversation, my Uncle’s coworker, Jay comes walking in, and he starts complaining about bleaching his hair. We both look up and Jay’s forehead, around his ears, and the back of neck were bright red, like he had been burned in a fire. Turns out Jay had taken my Uncle’s advice and “bleached” his hair – but with Clorox Bleach. He was in pain, and the bleach had only lightened the hair a bit. All pain and no gain.
I think I must have had the first side of this album on my turntable all the time. Because when I re-purchased this LP a while back, I knew all the words to all the songs on the first side, and not as many on side two.
I am a fan of Graffin’s lyrics. Graffin always had a way of delivering somewhat gloomy lyrics in a way that made you pay attention, and hold your interest.
We’re Only Gonna Die
“Early man walked away as modern man took control.
Their minds weren’t all the same; to conquer was his big goal,
So he built his great empire and slaughtered his own kind,
Then he died a confused man, killed himself with his own mind.
We’re only gonna die from our own arrogance.”
How Could Hell Be Any Worse? is Bad Religion’s first full-length album, it was released in 1982. It was financed by a $1,000 loan by guitarist Brett Gurewitz’s father. Its “success” surprised the band when it sold 10,000 copies in under a year.
“The final page is written in the books of history,
As man unleashed his deadly bombs and sent troops overseas
To fight a war which can’t be won and kills the human race,
A show of greed and ignorance, man’s quest for dominance.
They say when a mistake is made, a lesson can be learned.
But this time, there’s no turning back, the hate engulfs the world.
A million lives are lost each day, a city slowly burns,
A mother holds her dying child, but no one is concerned!”
I always dug this song, the crazy instrumental introduction, and the vocals are great:
Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell
“There’s people out there that say I’m no good,
‘Cause I don’t believe the things that I should,
And when the final conflict comes, I’ll be so sorry I did wrong,
And hope and pray that our lord god will think I’m good.
Countries manufacture bombs and guns
To kill your brother for something that he hasn’t even done.
Smog is ruining my lungs, but they aren’t sorry they’ve done wrong;
They hide behind their lies that they’re helping everyone.
In the end the good will go to heaven up above,
The bad will perish in the depths of hell.
How can hell be any worse when life alone is such a curse?
Fuck Armageddon, this is hell
We’re living in the denoument of the battle’s gripping awe,
So what’s the use of being good to satisfy them all?
How could hell be any worse?
Life alone is such a curse!
Fuck Armageddon, this is hell”
Bad Religion’s original drummer, Ziskrout, co-founded the band with Gurewitz in 1980. He performed on the EP, the Public Service compilation, and eight tracks on How Could Hell Be Any Worse? Rumor has it he decided to leave the band with only half of the songs recorded for How Could Hell Be Any Worse? due to a misunderstanding regarding the band’s new press photos (Rumor has it). Bad Religion found another drummer, Ziskrout’s drum-tech, Pete Finestone, who took over drums to complete the album.
Shortly after leaving the band, he moved to New York, where he worked for many years with Clive Davis as Vice President of Album Promotion for Arista Records. Later he returned to his punk roots by joining Epitaph Records in Amsterdam, where he served as Managing Director of Epitaph Europe/International working to break such artists as The Offspring, and Rancid. After Epitaph Records, Ziskrout returned to New York to launch two Latin Alternative music businesses, Grita! Records and LatinoVision.com. From 2001 to 2004, he served as COO of The CMJ Network.
Ziskrout currently works as CEO of the music, marketing, and technology consulting company, Sonicvista, based in Vermont.
Finestone composed the soundtrack fro the soon to be released film The Still Life, along with members of Skid Row, and Guns ‘N Roses. The film also has a cameo from Jonathan Davis of Korn.
How Could Hell Be Any Worse? was released on CD as part of the 1991 compilation, ’80-’85, and was remastered for the 2004 re-issue of this album.
If you don’t own it go and buy it, stop reading! Go buy it.
Rating: *** three out of three stars
Life Won’t Waitis out now, grab a copy today: https://www.createspace.com/4019318