The Bad Religion Album Everyone Hated

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Mon, Nov 25, 2013 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge into_the_unknown_cover.jpg
Thirty years ago this month, Bad Religion released Into The Unknown, their follow-up to their blistering 1982 debut How Could Hell Be Any Worse?

Their first work was pure punk rock, focused on political and social issues.

Into The Unknown was...something totally different, a musically-ambitious prog-rock album loaded with synthesizers and guitar solos that were less "punk" than "something you might hear on a Boston record."

Even the album cover was weird -- a sort of tranquil outer space setting. Whereas the cover of their debut, a stark photo of downtown L.A., implied something gritty, this seemed to imply....science fiction?

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Their fans didn't know what to think. It seemed to be almost universally rejected; the legend was that of the 10,000 copies originally shipped, almost all were returned.

The stress even caused the group to briefly disband.

Even to this day, the album has never been officially issued on CD. In fact, it's been pretty much ignored by the group completely, save for its vinyl reissue as part of a 2010 box set of their whole catalog, and the performance of one of its songs at a New York City show that same year.

(They've been mum about this work for years, and declined my interview request to discuss it, despite the fact that leader Greg Graffin is generally game to chat.)

Personally, I'd been a fan of Bad Religion since I was a teen. But I still went a long time without hearing the album. And none of the numerous Bad Religion fans I met over the years had either.

And so, a few years back I decided to take matters into my own hands. I downloaded the work from Mediafire or one of those and actually listened to the damn thing.

I thought: "How bad could it be?"

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