A Document of Dissent is Anti-Flag's new greatest hits record, comprised of 26 of the bands songs to celebrate their 20th anniversary. The songs have been remastered by Mass Giorgini and span each of the band's eight studio records, arranged in chronological order.
The content of the collection isn't too surprising. All of the classics are there: "Die for the Government", "Turncoat", "This is the End", and on and on. This is a collection of fast, angry, punk rock songs with catchy sing-along choruses. The inclusion of fan-favourites "This Machine Kills Fascists", "911 For Peace" and "Spaz's House Destruction Party" is great. No omissions are too obvious (although, none of the slower, more experimental tracks from The Bright Lights of America make an appearance) except for the band's political manifesto "No Borders, No Nations" and a few others here and there, which is to be expected from any greatest hits collection. On the whole though, the tracklisting is very successful.
The chronology works really well too. They could have repackaged it and tried to make it feel like a cohesive record, but using chronological order shows off the band's growth. It's clear how much they have improved, musically, across their 20 years. The vocals in particular improve dramatically across the collection, which perhaps stands out the most. While the first section of the album is comprised of primarily, fast, in your face, punk rock songs, the subtleties of the later songs really come through. "Good and Ready" has an outstanding bass line while the melody and depth of "Sodom, Gomorrah, Washington D.C" shines. The lyricism is unforgiving throughout, taking aim at the government, the wars, the economy; never getting less prominent, only slightly more intelligent, throughout. It's quite interesting seeing how most of their early tracks are still lyrically relevant 20 years on.
The two selling features for current fans of the band are the liner notes (which I have not seen, so can't comment on) which show the bands chronology alongside world events, displaying how the band has been influenced by the world around them over the years. The other feature is the fact that the collection is remastered. Songs like "Underground Network", "This Machine Kills Fascists" and "A New Kind of Army", are still raw, yet feel a lot fuller and sound more up to date. However, for the later songs, it makes little difference and is barely noticeable.
Overall, this is a great starting place for those new to the band. The older songs which have been remastered sound great, and the selection of songs is near-perfect, but there seems to be little reason for current fans to buy this. Although, while a greatest hits collection might seem unnecessary to some, Anti-Flag have always been described as a "gateway" band into punk music, and this collection will make it even easier for people to get into their music.