It’s the New Year. But seeing as we’re still so tangibly close to 2006, I think there’s nothing wrong with doing one last review for 2006 as a great year of music. The last lucky album is For Blood and Empire, a controversial release from those kings of punk, Anti-Flag. After ten years of independent releases and affiliation with Fat Wreck Chords, that refuge for the unsigned punk band, Anti-Flag have frightened a lot of hardcore fans by signing on with RCA and finally getting fully funded.
Why the worry? If you’ve paid any attention to the last albums and especially if you’ve managed to catch Anti-Flag live, you’ll know that Justin Sane, Chris #2, Chris Head and Pat Thetic aren’t just against the flag, they’re against corporate control and evil manifestations of capitalism. How does RCA differ from this school of thought? Justin and Chris have blown off the negativity with their claims that RCA isn’t going to have anything to do with the band’s production of music, the concert line-ups or the videos. It is simply going to aim some excellent funding their way. It’s definitely been worth controversy for the band, which has been working hard for years now to capture a wider audience. With the release of this album, two songs have been made into singles and can be found on music television stations in several countries.
As far as I’m concerned, the contract with RCA has done exactly what Anti-Flag says it has. It has given the band the ability to reach a larger audience without compromising their music or ideals. It’s great to now see the occasional Anti-Flag video on television at least once a week, whereas before I had pretty much no chance — even on Much Music, which is known for playing Fat Wreck Chords bands.
The album itself is of fantastic quality. Fans who have followed the band for the last ten years are saying that the sound has become a bit main-stream. Invariably, they will blame this on RCA. However, I think the case is simply that the band has evolved just like everyone else has. The sound of this album is great. The morals are just as strong, the lyrics just as worthwhile and the sound is every bit as catchy and hardcore as it has ever been. The entire album is easy to listen to, easy to understand and, as a loyal fan, I completely accept and adore this release.
In particular, check out “This is the End for You My Friend,” “The Exodus,” “One Trillion Dollars,” and “Hymn for the Dead.” These songs are, as always, focused on the battle against unjustified violence, such as in Iraq, unqualified government control and commercial mind control. How can you not respect these guys? Chris Head comes out with some of the greatest bass riffs you are ever going to hear. The vocalists have perfected their hardcore harmonies and, on the whole, there really is no modern punk band anywhere else that embodies all the crucial aspects of punk rock as these guys. Anti-Flag says it all and so do the band members. Check it out and learn something!