Bad Religion timed the release of an outtake from their 2019 album, Age of Unreason, to President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Although the track, “Emancipation of the Mind,” still bears frontman Greg Graffin’s trademark acerbic smirk, he’s included a rare glimmer of hope (at least rare for the decades-old punk band).
His stark descriptions of “walls of suspicion” and “chains of superstition,” amid thwapping drums and upbeat electrostatic guitars, crumble by the time he reaches the surprisingly bright harmonies of the chorus: “The wellspring of true liberty is emancipation of the mind.”
“I think the song really is a celebration of enlightenment values that can be cultivated through enthusiastic learning and open-mindedness,” Greg Graffin said in a statement. “So often we’re told what to think. But learning how to think (as opposed to learning what to think) is a true feeling of emancipation from the constraints of indoctrination that are so commonplace in our society.”
Bad Religion recently celebrated their 40-year history with a four-part concert series dubbed Decades. In October, the group performed a career-spanning setlist at Hollywood’s Roxy Theatre. They divided the songs into decades and interspersed their renditions with interviews and rehearsal footage. In 2020, they marked their anniversary further with the release of a collective autobiography, Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion. They had originally hoped to mark the year with a co-headlining tour with Alkaline Trio but scrapped the plans when the coronavirus pandemic shut down touring. The group’s most recent album, Age of Unreason, was their 17th since forming in Los Angeles in 1980.