Review by Angela Blasi
The General Strike is Anti-Flag’s 8th studio album slated for release on March 20, 2012. Following their last record (The People or the Gun,) The General Strike is the group’s second release on Side One Dummy Records. Maintaining the politically motivated lyrical content the band is known for, musically the band redefines their lens of interpretation through a more aggressive scope while bringing a force that is defined by the band as, “the sound track for the masses of dissatisfied private citizens that are currently protesting corporate injustice and governmental power around the world.” (anti-flag.com)
The record opens up in the simple, anthemic style any Anti-Flag fan would come to expect on the intro track “Controlled Opposition.” A mere 22 seconds long, Justin Sane sets the tone for the subsequent tracks while screaming, “No justice in a legal system run by criminals/If you don’t like the court ruling then you shouldn’t be poor./Now, go die.” Not even an entire minute in and listeners know they’re in for 12 solid tracks of colorful opposition to injustice and oppression. From this point forward, the album moves with a driving momentum it never seems to lose.
Operating as a sort of call to arms, The General Strike delves into a harder sound for the group. I really enjoyed this record musically as well as lyrically. The band hails this as their most aggressive record to date, and I think they have successfully accomplished that. Although I have always appreciated their consistency of sound, change is a good thing. Breaking away from past formulas, the band manages to maintain their penchant for catchy riffs and choral lines while steadily keeping the tempo swinging. Chris #2′s bass lines groove effortlessly from track to track, filling out each songs’ sound with a fullness that provides a punchy backbone. I could not help but notice the raw edginess that kept on coming song after song. From the first second of every new track, the intensity never let up on the listener. It’s as though Anti-Flag sought to sow the seeds of rebellion through the osmosis-like absorption. Not for nothing, but only a few minutes after listening I could see myself in a mosh pit somewhere, fist in the air and sweat rolling down my face as I continually belted out the lyrics of “The General Strike.” All those choral chants, one can’t help but want to lift up their voices like a battle cry.
Lyrically, Sane provides us with his witticisms and biting sarcasm designed to dig a thorn in the side of every fat cat and corporate pig conceivable. Refusing to hold back, the urgency and anger in his lyrics decry publicly the shamefulness of capitalism while making said concepts relatable to listeners. Young or old, this record doesn’t seek to isolate its listeners, but rather seeks to appeal to a broad spectrum of disenfranchised citizens. On “Nothing Recedes like Progress,” a sample of the Human Microphone opens the track, giving a nod to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I enjoyed this addition, as it so vividly captures the spirit of the bands’ politically charged mission. (The back story to the Human Microphone is simple; the police banned megaphones under noise ordinances, not to be defeated the OWS folks invented a system of call and response, inadvertently unifying the movement even further.) Additionally, “Bullshit Opportunities” screams with the voice of a movement in the face capitalist majority, “redefining what success is/redefining what wealth is.” It’s as though it embodies the restless energy and philosophy of the proverbial 99% in the heavy guitar riffs, rolling floor tom and a bass as punchy and fluid as its players.
My only qualm about this record is that it seems to go by too quickly. I started listening and before I knew it, I was already back at the first track. However, it’s the type of record that has cohesion, making it an easy listen from track one through twelve. Needless to say, I have allowed it to loop on repeat for the better part of a day and I’m not sick of it yet, the true hallmark of a good album. Make sure to check them out on their record release tour with The Flatliners and The Have Nots.
THE GENERAL STRIKE RECORD RELEASE TOUR
Anti-Flag with The Flatliners and Have Nots
03/06 Philadelphia, PA – The Barbary
03/07 Washington, DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
03/08 New York, NY – The Studio
03/09 Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall
03/10 Wilkes-Barre, PA – Redwood Art Space
03/11 Pittsburgh, PA – Altar Bar
03/12 Detroit, MI – Magic Stick
03/13 Chicago, IL – Reggies
03/14 Cleveland, OH – Grog Shop