Listen to Five Excellent Bad Religion Covers

Photo: Bad Religion Facebook

The paternal figures of polysyllabic punk, Bad Religion, put out their 16th studio album, True North, this week. Its 16 tracks, which in true hyper-speed Bad Religion fashion total about 36 minutes, are among the SoCal band’s catchiest, which is no small feat considering the band has been writing infectiously hummable songs since 1979, influencing countless bands, from NOFX to the Offspring. In that time, though, a few non-punk groups felt Bad Religion’s impact and recorded covers of the punks’ songs. We’ve gathered together a few below that strayed a bit from true north but still share in Bad Religion’s endlessly ebullient exuberance.

1. Biohazard, ”We’re Only Gonna Die”

When Biohazard burst of the NYHC underground with their breakthrough 1992 album, Urban Discipline, critics and fans lauded them for their smart fusion of rap and mosh-worthy hardcore. The album’s penultimate track, however, showed a different side of the band: a hyper-speed, and ultra-melodic, rendition of “We’re Only Gonna Die,” the first song on Bad Religion’s 1982 debut, How Could Hell Be Any Worse? The amazing fact is that even though Biohazard seem to be playing at twice the speed as the original, at 2:20, they’ve somehow added eight seconds to the original’s runtime.

2. Anathema, ”Better Off Dead”

The early recordings by the languorous Liverpudlians were deathy doom-metal indulgences, marked by abysmal downtuned and downtrodden sturm und drang. As they evolved, they became more of a gothic psych-rock band, which made it all the more surprising when they released this rendition of Bad Religion’s 1994 ditty “Better Off Dead” on a 1997 compilation of other metal bands doing unexpected covers (including My Dying Bride covering Portishead!). Anathema’s version of “Better Off Dead” doubles the song’s length and, naturally, sounds more depressing than anything BR frontman Greg Graffin could have envisioned.

3. Shai Hulud, ”Anesthesia”

In 2000, a couple of years after throat-shredding vocalist Chad Gilbert performed an act of hardcore treason by quitting Shai Hulud to play guitar for (gasp!) the pop-punk group New Found Glory, his former bandmates and their new singer also tried their hands at punk. But that’s not to say their apocalyptic take on Bad Religion’s 1990 tune “Anesthesia” sounds anything like punk. But hey, the guitar riff is kind of sort of there.

4. Ted Leo, ”Against the Grain”

Bad Religion’s most earnest interpreter, Ted Leo, takes the revved-up title track from the band’s 1990 album and plays up its Gaelic-sounding folk melodies. Strangely, this 2010 recording, which comes from a Spin magazine-curated collection of Bad Religion covers, sounds more like a (very melodic and noisily textured) Springsteen, Nebraska, or Seeger-like protest rumination. This machine kills.

5. Tegan and Sara, “Suffer”

While Bad Religion are sometimes credited as pop-punk forefathers, it’s rare their songs sound as unapologetically poppy as when indie-rock sisters Tegan and Sara’s took on the title track of the punk group’s 1988 album for the same comp as Ted Leo. Built on ethereal synths and click-clacky acoustic guitars, the Quins evoke maximum hookage from the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it warp-speed barnburner that is the original version, no suffering necessary.

True North is out now on Epitaph.

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