Anti-Flag - The General Strike (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


The General Strike (2012)


Anti-Flag have been quite a prolific band in recent years. The General Strike is the group's ninth full-length album, and second for SideOneDummy after parting ways with major label RCA. Through years of playing together, the group has developed into a tight-knit unit musically, but their lyrics, which come off impassioned, are ultimately directionless and take the whole affair down a few pegs.

There is a good mix of styles present on The General Strike, from the hardcore leanings of "Bullshit Opportunities" and 22-second opener "Controlled Opposition" to the pop rock hooks of "This is the New Sound" to the garage rock-influenced "I Don't Wanna," to the straightforward, almost Rancid-esque punk rock stylings of "Turn a Blind Eye." Anti-Flag is actually a much more well-rounded group, musically speaking, than it often gets credit for.

The group is at its best when at its most melodic. The aforementioned "This is the New Sound" is probably the album's strongest track. Its danceable bass line and massive rock guitars, coupled with a catchy vocal melody in the verses, sound, well, pretty rad. However, its chorus of "Stand up / Step out / Step out to the new sound" feels a bit anti-climactic after such strong verses. That is a persistent problem with a lot of the songs on The General Strike; they don't really go anywhere.

That being said, while Anti-Flag has never been the most eloquent or subtle band, lyrically speaking, some of the songs' the lyrics are so poorly thought out it's distracting. In "Ranks of the Masses Rising," we are told to "Become the pulse of the revolution / And the ranks of the masses rising." Who we're supposed to be rising against, and what our revolution is for, is never specified. Other songs simply go for the easiest rhymes and clichés possible. In "Nothing Recedes Like Progress" the phrase "This is class war / What are you waiting for?" is followed with a hearty "No rest for the wicked." A lot of the songs vaguely feel like they could be about the Occupy movement, but it's mostly empty sloganeering in the lyrical department on The General Strike.

The members of Anti-Flag are clearly passionate about what they do, they've been around forever and they have a lot of fans to show for it. There are some great moments on The General Strike, but there are too many little faults that when accumulated drag it down as a whole. It feels lazy. A band as experienced and musically adept as Anti-Flag should be capable of more.