Album Review: Anti-Flag - 'The General Strike'

18 March 2012 | 10:13 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Nothing spectacular, but a damn enjoyable return to punk rock form.

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Political punk boys Anti-Flag should really need no introduction after their 24 years as a band. Usually alive with anti-establishment messages, political passion and damn enjoyable punk rock, the band’s past two albums (2008’s The Bright Lights of America and 2009’s The People or the Gun) polarised fans and were arguably a bit of a let down. The General Strike, though, picks up right where 2006’s For Blood And Empire left off, and is an exciting return to form for a band that a lot of us grew up with.

Opener ‘Controlled Opposition’ is a 20 second powerhouse of punk rock, leading straight into ‘The Neoliberal Anthem’- typical fast, punchy, political Anti-Flag with verses of “Destruction, do it again/ Disaster, do it again!” Next up is the album’s first single ‘This is the New Sound’, which actually feels like the weakest track on the album, and is a terrible indication of the rest of The General Strike. It’s a bit of a throwaway track compared to the glory of fast, chaotic and defiance-inspiring ‘Bullshit Opportunies‘, or ‘1915’ which sounds like recent Blink-182 with rougher vocals and a catchy singalong chorus. ‘Broken Bones’ is about the horrors of war and violence, assumedly, but is energetic, punchy, alive with good old pop-punk power chords and simple solos. Pretty much every track on The General Strike has the potential to be stuck in your head for days, and it’s evident Anti-Flag still have their knack for crafting irresistibly simple yet powerful choruses. Lyrically, the album is typical Anti-Flag, with its straightforward political messages calling us to be the “pulse of the revolution.” ‘I Don’t Wanna’ is glorious- a throwback to old school punk, like a Ramones track crossed with early Black Flag, and will definitely have you feeling 15 and politically rebellious again.

If The General Strike feels like it’s over in the blink of an eye, that’s because it almost is. The tracks are short and to the point, like all good punk songs are (NOFX’s ‘The Decline’ aside…), with almost all coming in at well under 3 minutes long. ‘Resist’ comes in at just over a minute, but still manages to be a great little powerhouse of punk rock. Closer ‘Ghosts of Alexandria’ is absolutely outstanding- glorious pop-punk, uplifting and melodious, filling the void left by the demise of classic pop-punk bands like MxPx and Millencollin.

Maybe it’s pop-punk nostalgia, or maybe it’s the irresistible Rancid-esque rough edges and short, catchy melodies, but it’s hard not to enjoy The General Strike. To be honest a lot of the tracks sound the same, and there’s really nothing outstanding here, but it’s a great return to old-school form for Anti-Flag that I certainly enjoyed. It’s certainly no Terror State or For Blood and Empire, but The General Strike is what it is- a short, hard-hitting and passionate punk album.

1. Controlled Opposition
2. The Neoliberal Anthem
3. 1915
4. This Is The New Sound 
5. Bullshit Opportunities
6. The Ranks of The Masses Rising
7. Turn a Blind Eye 
8. Broken Bones 
9. I Don't Wanna
10. Nothing Recedes Like Progress
11. Resist
12. The Ghosts of Alexandria