Anti-Flag – ’20/20 Vision’

By Louis Kerry

The new year is here and there’s already fear that we could be heading into World War III – not to mention the terrifying fires in Australia, the looming uncertainty of Brexit, and the loose cannon politics of Donald Trump. With everything going on, has there ever been a more important time for bands to use their own platform for a cause bigger than just themselves?

One of the most socially conscious bands in punk rock, Anti-Flag take on that challenge with their new album ‘20/20 Vision’. Filled with spite and protest, each track takes no prisoners – from gun-lobbyists to the alt-right, there’s no holds barred, and their main target couldn’t be clearer. Opener ‘Hate Conquers All’ begins with a soundbite of the usual waffle that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth; featuring a fist in the air hook followed by a chorus that could soundtrack riots, Anti-Flag don’t waste time in stirring up political venom.

‘You Make Me Sick’ features no fluffy metaphors, no vocal acrobatics, just a pure punk rock hate song. Front man Chris#2 says what the rest of the world is thinking about Trump, and their vitriol could only be topped if the band shoved the US president in a cannon and blasted him out of the White House.

Anti-Flag’s straight to the point lyrics are what make their message so easy to digest and get behind. For example, the rebellious and anti-authority ‘A Nation Speaks’ screams out “In a society that abolishes all things, to abolish society is the only thing.” By making what can be confusing politics into thought provoking, gritty, and even eye-opening music whilst throwing a middle finger to a bigoted culture at the same time, Anti-Flag lay everything out in their music in an effort to inform, inspire, and perhaps make a difference too.

‘Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down’ is a surprisingly upbeat reminder that there’s still hope beyond racial, social, and economic injustice. ‘Christian Nationalist’ spits truth towards “white neo fascist supremacists” and ‘The Disease’ will go down as one of Anti-Flag’s greatest tracks. Toeing the line perfectly between the soundtrack of a government beheading and an anthemic singalong, crowds will soon scream to the line “apathy is feeding the machine” whilst air-guitaring to Justin Sane’s perfectly timed solo.

Chris#2 and Sane’s dual vocal style is now a vital feature of the band’s repertoire, with the gang vocals adding a lease of life to every track. While ’20/20 Vision’ may be one of the finest albums in terms of its message and cut-you-like-a-knife lyrics, the album does lack musicianship and rather sticks to the same design that they have become known for, leaving it to drift into previously covered territory. Aside from some added brass and violin parts, the album is very one dimensional.

Not everyone may agree with all of Anti-Flag’s hard left politics, but their message of love and unity through the medium of hard-as-nails punk rock is inspiring. While many aspects of the world look like all hope is gone, ‘20/20 Vision’ is a call to arms to stand up to hatred and discrimination, and not to let negativity get the best of you. The album asks you to always keep fighting for what you believe in. Lyrically and emotionally, Anti-Flag have created a punk rock album that speaks not just for a nation, but for a whole generation.

LOUIS KERRY

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