Anti-Flag - Cease Fires (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Cease Fires (2015)

A-F Records

Anti-Flag got going in earnest in 1993. (Although they existed in fits and starts before that.) In 2013 they celebrated 20 years as a band by releasing Document of Dissent. It’s a 26-song collection that covers their entire career and deserves a spot in your record collection. (If you don’t already have the individual albums.) They also put out a year-long subscription series called 20 Years of Hell. The 7-inches were limited to 500 copies each and featured a re-recorded Anti-Flag song on the A-side, and various A-F Records artists on the B-sides. These little records served to make some out of print material available again as well as to promote their label. Cease Fires collects those 12 reworked Anti-Flag songs plus two previously unreleased tracks.

The newer songs, “Coward In My Veins” and “The New Jim Crow,” lead off the album. They sound like, well, current era Anti-Flag. Which is to say that it’s similar to anything from For Blood and Empire or later. It’s catchy, slickly produced, thoroughly modern sounding punk rock. The whole album has a high-end production that almost all of the original recordings lacked. Some of these tracks, like “Kill the Rich” and “The Consumer’s Song” lose a bit of their previous raw charm. Others, like “Twenty Years of Hell” and “No Future,” benefit from acoustic guitars, tighter harmonies and even horns. There’s quite a lot to like here. “Bring Out Your Dead,” “The WTO Kills Farmers,” “The Ink and the Quill (Be Afraid)” and “The Ghosts of Alexandria” are all stand-outs.

Cease Fires sounds like a cohesive LP rather than a compilation. Maybe that’s the point, but it’s likely many die-hard fans would rather have a re-mastered collection of the original recordings. Anti-Flag have always been political, and this is no exception. Unfortunately, like a lot of the material they’ve released over the last 20 years, this can come across as utterly humorless. That being said, Anti-Flag has become one of punk’s elder statesmen, and they have earned a certain amount of respect. While this album is very solid, it will mostly appeal to already devoted fans. Casual fans would be better off picking up a copy of Anti-Flag’s other 2015 release, American Spring.