Veteran punks Anti-Flag are back serving up their melodic protest-punk with their second release on Side One Dummy Records. Anti-Flag have always had their hot button political topic du jour to sing about, and The General Strike is no different, with the band turning its attention to the Arab Spring and the Occupy protest movement. Fortunately, Anti-Flag has managed to tighten not only their focus, but also their entire musical approach in The General Strike, which sounds like it could fit in with Underground Network and The Terror State in terms of sound.
“The Ranks of the Masses Rising” is a stellar bit of protest-punk with just enough hook and just enough lyrical smarts to make it an incredibly solid track, with bonus points for getting “Tahrir Square” to sound good in a lyric. However, not every song emanates the same genuine spirit that makes “The Ranks of the Masses Rising” a stellar track. “This is the New Sound” and “Nothing Recedes Like Progress” come across as particularly hollow with their rabble-rousing choruses and allusions to the Occupy movement. It’s always hard to swallow anti-capitalist attacks from rock stars who’ve thrived on the Warped Tour, but if you block out the latent and blatant moments of inanity, you will be treated to Anti-Flag’s finest musical ouput in the last eight years.
Justin Sane‘s snappy lyrical senses have come back for the first time since the Rock Against Bush compilations, and their ability to create short blasts of high-octane punk rock have returned with a vengeance. The whole album brings together the best elements of Anti-Flag, despite being the shortest full-length album in their catalog. The General Strike does more than enough to please Anti-Flag fans while bringing people around to a smarter version of rock music than your average radio-friendly drone.
(Side One Dummy, 1944 North Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068)