The new Anti-Flag album, “The General Stike,” just dropped. The album was much anticipated in the punk world by old, nostalgic fans and the new crowd alike. The album isn’t unusual or shocking, but it’s comfortable and just OK.
Since their first performance in 1993, the band has been refining their sound. The group came out of Pittsburgh Pa. in the late ‘80s and has been a force to be reckoned with ever since. Their first album, “Die for the Government,” was a gritty, punk strike at the establishment, embodied by subpar recording equipment and visceral, youthful anger.
Since then they have cleaned up their equipment and their sound but maintained a staunchly revolutionary and pissed-off tone. The band is heavily involved in activism — their influence can be felt from PETA to Amnesty International. However, involvement in big-ticket organizations doesn’t mean they’ve sold out; they’re still behind the scenes, organizing groups like Military-Free Zone and the Underground Action Alliance. Most recently, they have been up in arms against the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, an act signed by President Barack Obama that gives the president the right to detain American citizens without a trial. “The General Strike” is exactly as it sounds — a protest with teeth.
The introductory song on “Strike” is only 21 seconds long. It’s fast, mean and just barely melodic — exactly how punk should be. Not to worry, though. There’s plenty of melody to be found. The album is a return to the classic Anti-Flag sound. It’s melodic and fast with barebone guitar riffs and a pounding energy that’s enough to get just about anyone’s foot tapping.
“The Neoliberal Anthem,” the first full-length song, is a characteristical sing-along Anti-Flag call-to-arms against government corruption and the general state of life in America. In many ways the record is also a salute to Sid Vicious and The Sex Pistols: “The Masses Rising” is reminiscent of early British punk.
Those who love Anti-Flag for their unique sound will not be disappointed. This is the kind of punk that is inviting enough for rock fans and angry enough to please even hardcore fans. My personal favorite is “Turn a Blind Eye,” because the band employs a melody complicated for a punk tune but manages to keep hold of their sound. It’s a sort of marriage between Dropkick Murphys and Black Flag.
Although the record is in no way a departure from standard Anti-Flag, it is pleasing and well constructed. Some may ask what business a group of successful, middle-aged musicians has singing a song like “I Don’t Wanna,” but I prefer to listen and just let them do their thing.