Political activists and punk icons Anti-Flag deliver their ninth full album discussing wealth injustice, war, and a myriad of topics. After eight full albums over 20 years, how does American Spring deliver in 2015?
Great rock n’ roll doesn’t have to be mindless and socially conscious tunes don’t have to be dull. That is the opening line to the press release for the ninth full album of Anti-Flag one of the most well known political activist bands in the world.
It can be very rewarding to listen to a band who has more of a message than tearing up hotel rooms with a woman you just met the night before. Music has been a form of expression, and in this case protest, for decades and Anti-Flag may be one of the longest lasting bands to wield is this style as an audible weapon.
American Spring highlights many of the current social ailments that are afflicting our society. Throughout fourteen tracks, Anti-Flag tackle modern polarizing topics such as class war, anti-poverty, drone strikes, and “corporatocracy”.
For many rock and punk fans from a generation ago Anti-Flag will instantly bring a wave of nostalgia, and for good reason. It is the lively and energetic volume behind a fast rhythm. American Spring continues that tradition over 20 years after the band’s inception.
I could go on for an hour about the past of Anti-Flag, their influences and accomplishments, but right now I want to look at 2015. American Spring, opening with the song Fabled World, proves that Anti-Flag have just as much focus and thought as they ever had.
Just from the opening line and guitar build you can tell this song was meant to be listened to loudly. The guitar riffs are clean and rhythmic and the combination of intensity and melody in Justin Sane’s voice carries this song as something to scream with loud enough for the neighbors to complain.
Outside of the music in Fabled World, I think the line “We live in a fabled world” greatly summarizes many of the themes in American Spring. With all the injustices and conflicting infrastructures in the world, it can be hard to fight when we are constantly told how “great” we have things.
Even though Anti-Flag is known for their energy and volatile presence, they are more than capable of bring down the mood. So much so that it’ll make you think much less about the music and more on what condition your own life is.
Hearing the line “I can’t get away from all of the poison, from all of the pain” can strike a chord in even the most unemotional and oblivious listener. The paradox is that it is placed in a faster pace than a line like this may be used to hearing. It is a welcome change in today’s rock scene and proof that punk is still a sub-genre that is as alive as it can be.
While some topics and songs may not be able to connect with each listener, it is undeniable that you can understand where the thought and concern is coming from in each track; just as it is undeniable that Anti-Flag are still capable of performing energetically in 2015.
There is nothing wrong with an album that is meant to be fun and celebrates life by describing how good a party was or destroying a house by rocking out to hard. But there is something to be appreciated when a band takes their time to spread awareness about issues that are severaly affecting lives. Anti-Flag may be some of the best at that format.
Overall, American Spring continues the legacy of Pennsylvania’s activist heroes. Whether you hear this album as a nostalgia trip from years back, or something to scream with, it’s difficult to deny the passion that is presented here in many different elements.