Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Review: Anti-Flag - The General Strike

 From their formation in the late 1980's Anti-Flag have been one of the leaders of left-wing political punk rock filled with a striking message played with an igniting performance. They return in 2012 at a time when their political beliefs are beginning of take up the news headlines with full force. Capitalism is being taken on in worldwide Occupy protests to the extent that it's now reached Dundee, Governments across the Middle East are finding themselves in turmoil through major revolts and in the group's homeland of the USA, various Republican Presidential candidates have risen to greater public consciousness and aren't finding a positive reaction from many people at all. It's a time when left-wing bands should be at the height of popularity and giving the performance of their lifetime.

 However, Anti-Flag's ninth effort The General Strike doesn't really ignite as punk enthusiasts may hope. While all the ingredients for a perfect political punk albums are present; energetic buzzsaw riffs from Chris Head and activist frontman Justin Sane, choruses filled with engaging hooks and anthemic lyrics of political gathering ("Become the pulse of the revolution!") and tracks like The Neoliberal Anthem and The Ranks of the Masses Rising bring these techniques together to stunning effect, but overall, the type of spark of rebirth that should be present just isn't anywhere to be found. And without this spark, much of the album really seems to just run together in a continuous series of rough riffs and formulaic punk structures and the overall sound is simply average and lacking in any sense of significance.
 So, while there's nothing wrong with The General Strike, because it is a well made political punk album, it should be one that becomes an album definitive of their talents. It may annoy people if I use of pop punk comparison but when Green Day released American Idiot in 2004, it was an album that protested against then-President George W. Bush and it was a message that people across the world could get behind which then saw them become the biggest band in the world despite being well-over a decade into their career. With the world's political mindset turned in a way that's seeing more support than ever rooting for those in a left-wing state of mind, bands like Anti-Flag should be making an album more powerful and more relevant to our times. It seems that the group aren't taking advantage of the world they are living in.

 Anti-Flag's The General Strike is out now via SideOneDummy.  The band will headline the Anti-Fest on the 3rd of May at the Herts University Forum, Hatfield.

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