Anti-Flag – when does rebellion become commercialism?
That is a tough question right there, no doubt about it. For me, it’s the main thing I have been pondering whilst listening to their latest album, American Fall. I must be honest, Anti-flag for me have drifted away from their original sound a little too much, where once there was rough edges and righteous rage, there was mediocrity and a sound that was no different to Sum 41.
Not that there is anything wrong with Sum 41, but their diluted Pop Punk sound does not mix well with political slogans. As Anti-Flag has started to head down that path, I gave up on them, they went on their way and I went on mine. But this changed when I saw their name on the list of albums to review for B.G.M., and I am a sucker for redemption of an act that you lost interest in.
So, it is time to get reacquainted with Anti-Flag, what could possible go wrong?
In the two years since American Spring, the political scene in America has changed dramatically and this is surely the right environment for a hard hitting, political charged record from these guys? Well, the answer to this one is both yes and no.
When it comes to their political message,
Anti-Flag are still on the left and they are still hitting those targets with ease. With songs like “The Criminals” and “Finish What We Started”, they are not exactly playing the subtle card, especially when they have songs such as “Racist” on American Fall. They wear their hearts on their sleeves, they have a message they want to get across and that has been sort of missing from their last few albums. This has always been there strength, it is a positive for the band that they can write a great set of lyrics at time, I will give Anti-Flag credit for that.
However, the music of American Fall, is awful.
Let’s look at “When the Walls Fall” for instance; if you look at the words, it is a hard-hitting piece about the downfall of our society. Musically though, it’s the sound of the bastard ‘Offspring’ of Rancid and Green Day with the “Na-Nah, Na-Nah” riff in the background. There are no redeeming features to this song, apart from the ending. It’s also not the only example of sub-par music on American Fall, I could also use “Liars”, “Digital Blackout”, or “Throw It Away” to demonstrate this point.
It just seems that Anti-Flag have found a niche for themselves, but it is inside the machine.
Some people like to fight from the inside, they feel they are making a difference. But when your music is similar to Reel Big Fish, Sum 41, and all those other party punk acts, the message is lost behind the shiny gloss of pop and it dilutes those great words. I truly didn’t want to dislike this album, but there is no rebellion here, it is all lip service and not bile! When you have such a polarising figure in the White House, Anti-Flag and Punk as a whole should be doing something different to the establishment, not cementing itself further into the system – the only thing that is “anti” on this album is sadly, Punk.
Rating: 2/10 – the flag is fallen.
Top track – “The Criminals”
Owner of more Frank Zappa music than one human needs, two cats and looked after by an Angel, Eddie Carter thinks about music more than a Geordie should. Hailing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, Eddie spends most of his time surrounded by CD’s and records. He also writes for All The Time I Was Listening to My Own Wall of Sound, his beard is grey and not long enough – also, he wants a pint.