By Tom Sinclair
Updated October 18, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

After more than a decade of hard playing and harder living, Southern California’s Social Distortion have made their first truly transcendent album. That White Light White Heat White Trash is constructed of such rock & roll staples as a driving backbeat, gritty vocals, steamroller guitar riffs, and an underdog’s worldview makes it all the more impressive. ”Crown of Thorns” sounds like something John Mellencamp might have written had he come of age in a mosh pit. Call it heartland punk, and beware: It just may be the next big thing.