My introduction to Anti-Flag was one of my happiest accidents in the past few years. I had gone to a concert they were co-headlining not knowing who they were and was completely blown away. Since then, their albums American Spring and American Fall have become a couple of my favorites. When the opportunity to review their upcoming album 20/20 Vision, due out January 17, 2020 via A-F Records/Spinefarm Records, I jumped at it like the band jumping off a speaker-stack.
I downloaded the album advance just before I got the to the office and as I sat down waiting for my computer to boot up I put on my earphones and hit play. I didn’t know what to expect but was almost giddy with excitement. The opening track of the album, “Hate Conquers All,” opens with a sound bite from President Trump over a low guitar growl. As soon as the vocals started my brain was hit with a massive dose of dopamine and I couldn’t get the smile off my face as I logged in to get my day started.
Anti-Flag has never been shy about their politics but on their past albums Justin Sane (lead vocals and guitar), Chris Head (rhythm guitar), Chris #2 (vocals and bass) and Pat Thetic (drums) have pulled their punches and not named-names. This time around, Anti-Flag is angry and no one is safe. The entire album is the hard-hitting, loud angry punk album that the US (and by extension, the world) needs in this day and age where people are worried about the rise of Conservatives and right-wing politics around the world.
The first single released form the album, “Christian Nationalists” calls out those who hide behind their religious ideology to justify their hateful rhetoric. “Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down” is a call to action. It’s a rally cry for those who don’t like what they are seeing in the current political climate to gather up and make their voices heard. That theme continues through the next few tracks – “Unbreakable,” “The Disease” and “A Nation Sleeps.”
Anti-Flag makes it abundantly clear they don’t like what they are seeing and are going to encourage whoever they can to enact change. “You Make Me Sick” is a no-hold-barred track that tells Trump, and his supporters, exactly what the band, and by extension their fans and supports feel about him.
I can’t remember the last time I sat and read through an album’s liner notes. The lyrics of each song are accompanied by a short essay that show the deeper meanings of the song, along with suggested reading.