For once in a lifetime, a cool punk rock record comes out in Europe one month earlier than in the United States. This probably has to do with the headlining tour Bad Religion started in Europe in June, but you can't imagine the surprise when I found the deluxe edition of New Maps of Hell in stores on June 2nd when I signed on my calendar July 8th as the release date (yes I keep a calendar for these kinds of things, what a nerd!). It makes you smile, like when you get a record two months before it's released.
With that said, I know a lot of so-called fans will blame Mr. Brett for re-releasing a record that came out less than one year ago, but seriously, who cares? I get pissed when record labels like Victory Records and Tooth and Nail keep on reissuing CDs three months after they originally came out, but for Bad Religion, I am cool with that. This is actually worth it, with cool content.
The reissue comes out in an awesome deluxe package with a CD and DVD, where you can hear the original New Maps of Hell (no re-mastering or changes at all), but you get some bonus stuff too, as the seven new acoustic tracks that you might have previously heard on some bootleg or some lo-fi video. The "new" acoustic songs sound really great, especially "Won't Somebody," which has a magnificent chorus with dual vocals and lyrics that go "Won't somebody please come up with something / 'Cuz Jesus just don't seem to be impartially working" in pure Graffin style. The acoustic versions of "Sorrow," "God Song" (which were already heard on the Japanese release of New Maps of Hell) and "Skyscraper" were already quite known to most hardcore fans, but the new versions of this album sound so much better because they basically sound like new songs, even to my ears, which got used to the electric versions. Only one song from the original New Maps of Hell is given the acoustic treatment, and it is "Dearly Beloved"; it sounds much slower of course, but it still have its classic charm and I must say Greg's vocals sound even better on the acoustic part. The other songs are "Adam's Atoms" and "Chronophobia," which are actually new to me; the first is maybe the darker acoustic song of the bonus portions, and it reminds me of the Generator era, while the latter sounds more like a waltz here and there. Not bad at all.
The DVD is basically divided into four parts, and it doesn't contain a lot of bonus material as you may expect; there is the making of the acoustic songs with Brett and Greg recording the seven new songs (totaling less than 10 minutes), the music videos for "Honest Goodbye" and "New Dark Ages," a video footage with the making of New Maps of Hell (about two minutes), but most important, there is a a 22-song live show recorded live in Las Vegas where you can hear the band playing old-school classics as well as songs from this album. Bad Religion's shows are classic, and it's no different here; from the opening threesome "American Jesus," "Modern Man" and "Generator" to the newer tracks as "Supersonic" and "New Dark Ages," to everything in between, like "Infected," "Come Join Us," "Do What You Want" and the older songs they play ("We're Only Gonna Die"). The show ends with "Sorrow," apparently the most famous song among Bad Religion fans, but not me.
The best part of this release is, of course, the package; it comes in a digipack with a nice slipcase and contains four booklet, two of which are foldout posters, one a 20-page lyric booklet and the other one a small book with lots of pictures, not of the band, unluckily. I think this would be a good way to curb illegal downloading, including such physical bonus assets.