The Empire Strikes First

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The Empire Strikes First
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 8, 2004 (2004-06-08)
RecordedNovember 2003 – February 2004
StudioSound City in Los Angeles
GenrePunk rock, skate punk
ProducerBrett Gurewitz, Greg Graffin
Bad Religion chronology
Punk Rock Songs
The Empire Strikes First
New Maps of Hell

The Empire Strikes First is the thirteenth studio album by American punk rock band Bad Religion, released on June 8, 2004. The album is heavily influenced by the then-current Iraq War (most notably in the songs "Atheist Peace", "Let Them Eat War" and the title track) and also has some nods to George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (the song title "Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever" as well as the line "you deserve Two Minute Hate" in the title track are direct references to the book), the latter most likely inspired by the Patriot Act.

The album also marks the rare instance that non-members of Bad Religion received a writing credit, as Chris Wollard of Hot Water Music co-wrote two songs.

The song "Social Suicide" appears in the video games Tony Hawk's Project 8 and MX vs. ATV Untamed.


On February 4, 2004, The Empire Strikes First was announced for release in a few months' time.[1] On March 17, 2004, the album's artwork and the track listing were posted online.[2] "Sinister Rouge" was made available for download through the label's website on April 11, 2004.[3] "Los Angeles Is Burning" was released to radio on April 27, 2004.[4] They toured Europe in May 2004, where they debuted several new songs from the album.[5] The Empire Strikes First was released on June 8, 2004. The following day, the music video for "Los Angeles Is Burning" was posted on the label's website.[6] Soon afterwards, they appeared at the KROQ Weenie Roast.[7] In October and November 2004, the band went on a tour of the US with Rise Against and From First to Last.[8][9] After playing a series of multi-day stints in venues in the US in June 2005, Bad Religion toured across Europe in August and September 2005, which included an appearance at the Reading and Leeds Festivals.[5][10] In October and November 2005, they went on a North American trek with Anti-Flag and Pennywise.[11]


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
Chart AttackFavorable[14]
IGN9/10 [15]
Robert Christgau(choice cut)[16]
Rolling Stone[18]
Pitchfork8.2/10 [19]

It peaked at number 40 on the Billboard 200 album chart,[20] the highest position the band had attained at the time. The album scored a minor radio hit with, "Los Angeles Is Burning", which also reached No. 40 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Alternative Press ranked "Los Angeles Is Burning" at number 90 on their list of the best 100 singles from the 2000s.[21]

Track listing[edit]

2."Sinister Rouge"Graffin1:53
3."Social Suicide"Graffin1:35
4."Atheist Peace"Graffin1:57
5."All There Is"Gurewitz2:57
6."Los Angeles Is Burning"Gurewitz3:23
7."Let Them Eat War"Gurewitz, Francis, Wackerman, Baker, Bentley2:57
8."God's Love"Graffin2:32
9."To Another Abyss"Graffin4:07
10."The Quickening"Gurewitz, Wackerman, Chris Wollard2:19
11."The Empire Strikes First"Gurewitz, Baker3:23
12."Beyond Electric Dreams"Gurewitz, Wackerman, Wollard4:02
13."Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever"Gurewitz3:49
14."Live Again (The Fall of Man)"Graffin3:35
Japanese bonus track
15."The Surface of Me"Graffin3:01


Bad Religion[edit]

Additional personnel[edit]


  • David Bragger – violin on "Atheist Peace"
  • Mike Campbell – guitar on "Los Angeles is Burning"
  • Sage Francis – guest vocals on "Let Them Eat War"
  • John Ginty – Hammond B-3 on "Los Angeles is Burning"
  • Leopold Ross – Sonic Alienator on "Beyond Electric Dreams"
  • Claude Sarne – goth choir soprano on "Sinister Rouge"


  • Atticus Ross – programming
  • Joe Barresi – engineer, mixing
  • Tom Baker – mastering
  • Pete Martinez – assistant engineer
  • June Murakawa – assistant engineer
  • Nick Pritchard – design
  • Sean Murphy – photography
  • Matt Rubin – photography
  • Hans Buscher - Guitar Tech

Release history[edit]

Country Release date
United Kingdom June 7, 2004 (2004-06-07)
United States June 8, 2004 (2004-06-08)


Chart performance for The Empire Strikes First
Chart Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA Charts)[22] 84
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[23] 99
French Albums (SNEP)[24] 177
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[25] 28
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 42
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[27] 82
US Independent Albums (Billboard)[28] 2
US Top Album Sales (Billboard)[29] 40


  1. ^ White, Adam (February 4, 2004). "Bad Religion album title and release date". Retrieved March 22, 2021.
  2. ^ White, Adam (March 17, 2004). "Artwork and track listing for 'The Empire Strikes First'". Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  3. ^ White, Adam (April 11, 2004). "Download Bad Religion's 'Sinister Rouge'". Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  4. ^ "FMQB Airplay Archive: Modern Rock". Friday Morning Quarterback Album Report, Incorporated. Archived from the original on March 22, 2013. Retrieved October 30, 2016.
  5. ^ a b White, Adam (June 4, 2005). "Bad Religion returns to Europe". Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  6. ^ White, Adam (June 9, 2004). "'Los Angeles Is Burning' video online". Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  7. ^ White, Adam (May 22, 2004). "Bad Religion, Hives, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beasties, Killers at 2004 Weenie Roast". Archived from the original on October 27, 2021. Retrieved October 27, 2021.
  8. ^ UG Team (August 27, 2004). "In Brief: Marilyn Manson, Used, Slipknot, Bad Religion, Fu Manchu". Ultimate Guitar. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
  9. ^ White, Adam (October 23, 2004). "Bad Religion shooting a DVD in Hollywood". Retrieved October 28, 2021.
  10. ^ White, Adam (May 21, 2005). "Reading and Leeds punk stage announced". Retrieved October 31, 2021.
  11. ^ Paul, Aubin (September 30, 2005). "Many more dates from Bad Religion; ex-drummer's memoir to be made into a movie". Retrieved November 20, 2021.
  12. ^ "The Empire Strikes First by Bad Religion". Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  13. ^ AllMusic
  14. ^ McConvey, Joel (June 8, 2004). "CD Releases: Gene Simmons, Royal City, Velvet Revolver, Alexisonfire and more!". Chart Attack. Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved April 1, 2021.
  15. ^ JR (July 19, 2004). "The Empire Strikes First". IGN. Archived from the original on May 28, 2012. Retrieved July 19, 2017.
  16. ^ "Robert Christgau: CG: bad religion". Retrieved October 3, 2016.
  17. ^ "Bad Religion - The Empire Strikes First". RTÉ News. June 30, 2004.
  18. ^ Miller, Kirk (July 8, 2004). "The Empire Strikes First Review". Archived from the original on March 11, 2007. Retrieved October 3, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  19. ^ Tompkins, J. H. (August 2, 2004). "Pitchfork Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Empire Strikes First's entry at". Retrieved November 6, 2007.
  21. ^ Paul, Aubin (November 20, 2009). "At The Drive-In's 'One Armed Scissor' tops AP's 'Haircut 100' singles countdown". Retrieved October 13, 2022.
  22. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (pdf ed.). Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 22.
  23. ^ " – Bad Religion – The Empire Strikes First" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  24. ^ " – Bad Religion – The Empire Strikes First". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  25. ^ " – Bad Religion – The Empire Strikes First" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  26. ^ " – Bad Religion – The Empire Strikes First". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  27. ^ " – Bad Religion – The Empire Strikes First". Hung Medien. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  28. ^ "Bad Religion Chart History (Independent Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  29. ^ "Bad Religion Chart History (Top Album Sales)". Billboard. Retrieved May 4, 2020.

External links[edit]