With the turn of a new political climate in 2016 it’s no surprise that some of the big names of punk are releasing new albums with so much to say. Following their last release American Spring, hard-hitting ANTI-FLAG have a more dreary and negative portrayal of their country with American Fall. While the title could be a carry on from their previous album, it’s more likely that American Fall addresses the fall of the nation, skipping what could be seen as the “summer” of their years or the potentially strongest season for America in history. A nation collapsed; from their perspective.
American Attraction is the opening track on the album and begins with an eerie guitar playing solo which quickly bursts into a powerhouse of drum beats and catchy riffs. “There’s no escaping the American Attraction”. This song connotes the general view of Americans throughout the world as the chorus states with some powerful imagery “I got that gun, got that drug” as well as going on to state about bombs and blood. ANTI-FLAG seem to explode out of the gate with this album with a hell of a lot to say about the current ideology of modern America. As clearly recognised in the second track that just encapsulates everything ANTI-FLAG are about, not running from the truth, saying it how it is. The Criminals is a no nonsense track which is so stylistically noticeable as classic ANTI-FLAG. It tackles the general feeling of the standard civilian lifestyle quoting: “these are the days that test your heart and soul” further going on to knife-edge topics in American society such as the cost of healthcare, guns, knowledge and love.
The sound of this track is so traditional fast paced punk-rock accompanied with heartfelt melodies which allows them to force their message with such pure bombardment whilst not feeling generic or boring.
American Fall really seems to push the boat out with the ANTI-FLAG sound as they seem to experiment with new ways to portray their important messages. As seen on the third track, When the Wall Falls, this song could easily belong on a modern day jazz album. The messages throughout this album are so much easier to understand this way and help to catch a sense of urgency within it.
ANTI-FLAG are on a mission to not only inform and give a voice to those who feel like they can’t speak up, but to empower them to do just that. They’ve never been afraid to speak out against the government and politicians and this album is no different. Every single song on this record packs an incredible vocal punch which is inspirational to the listener and will invoke change within their own lives. There’s never a feeling of uncertainty or loss of direction throughout. The listener is taken on a political journey combating the problems and upside-down ideas which, if not thought about previously will definitely affect the mind-set of anyone who hears it.
But the album doesn’t end on a down-note, as ANTI-FLAG are well known for supporting the rights of animals and people around the world, the final song Casualty speaks out on behalf of the oppressed people who may have felt ashamed of who they are. The song has an impact of a chorus which is chanted throughout and accompanied with grooving guitar and surging drum beats which makes for very easy listening but by no means dampening the message of the song. American Fall discusses such divisive and potentially explosive topics whilst not being an overbearing powerhouse of sound. The messages are clear cut and easy to understand and this album is sure to get a lot of attention from the punk and political scenes. It would be so easy to go in and dissect every single song on this album as there is a plethora of powerful and distressing imagery throughout.
ANTI-FLAG have been pumping out albums since 1996, yet their passion and understanding of such topics have not wavered as American Fall clearly shows. It paints a stylistic image of an easy to recognise ANTI-FLAG sound yet has this overwhelming sense of urgency and danger within its lyricism whilst experimenting with daring new sounds which were previously alien to this band. This album is a must hear for punk-rockers everywhere.
American Fall is out now via Spinefarm Records.
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