Surprising everyone by signing to major label RCA, Anti-Flag, one of the ultimate anti-establishment proponents, was doing one of two things – committing career suicide and losing all their hardcore DIY fans, or getting a chance to create one of the best albums of their career and send their message to the entire world. It certainly appears the latter is about to happen. Anti-Flag created a great record with top-notch production, intelligent songs, and an unabashed political message. Full of gang vocals, simplistic and memorable choruses, For Blood and Empire is an impressive major-label debut which will expose the band and their message to more than ever before. As always, the band’s intention seems to be raising awareness about the political environment while calling out our nation’s wrong doings and ignorance.
Anti-Flag manages to mix some select upstrokes and walking bass lines with gang vocals and choruses so catchy that whether you like it or not, you’ll be aware of the band’s message because you’ll be singing it to yourself for days. The instantly memorable acoustic track “One Trillion Dollars” offers up such promising messages as “fuck the world, kill ‘em all.” The band’s website provides the reasoning behind this track, as a whopping one trillion dollars of US dollars was spent on weapons around the world in 2004. Tongue-in-cheek lines like “One trillion dollars could make the fat lady sing” express the band’s chagrin and disgust for the state of American affairs. Though the political onslaught of lyrics begins to wear thin after a while, there are plenty of intelligent yet simple songs on this record that allow Anti-Flag to convey their message to whoever will listen. The record does a decent job at sustaining energy until the end, but overall it’s nothing outstanding, and nothing particularly new.
This release definitely surprised me. I find it more accessible and cleaner-produced than previous Anti-Flag releases, and it’s lasted longer in my stereo than their other efforts have. Don’t pass this record off as another anarchy-punk CD with a “fuck ‘em all” attitude. While that’s pretty much what this is, it stands out of the pack. All sorts of music fans will enjoy this record – it’s even catchy enough to appeal to the pop-punk crowd. If you’ve never listened to Anti-Flag, throw away your biases and listen carefully – you just might learn something.