Anti-Flag – 20/20 Vision
Released: January 17th, 2020
Justin Sane | Vocals and Guitar
Chris Head | Vocals and Guitar
Chris #2 | Vocals and Bass
Pat Thetic | Drums
Let’s just get one thing very clear – Anti-Flag have always been a highly charged political punk band. From their inception in 1988, the Pennsylvania-based punks have made a habit of wearing their views on their sleeve. For their 12th studio album however, they’ve deviated slightly from more broad political themes to focus on one thing for their subject. Or, more rather, one man. It is, of course, this stance that will put 20/20 Vision as an album that separates those who are true fans of Anti-Flag, and those who listen to punk rock rather ironically (you know – those who scream ‘keep politics out of mah music’ on Facebook while wearing a Rage Against The Machine shirt in their profile pic).
And the first five seconds of ‘Hate Conquers All’ establishes that fact from the get-go, with a raw intro that gives off the anarchist image of the band instantly. Justin Sane and Chris #2 trade off each other with their vocal lines, while the punk rock guitars are loud and unforgiving.
That vibe continues throughout the album from ‘It Went Off Like A Bomb’ to the last breath of ‘Resistance Frequencies.’ This is definitely an album for those who like their punk brash, fast and unrepentant, and to compare a little bit, while last year’s offerings from Sum 41 and Millencolin treaded the water of exploring the issues and feelings around Trump’s America, Anti-Flag joins the likes of Bad Religion in not being afraid to spell out their take on things a lot more clearly.
That’s not to say that Anti-Flag aren’t dynamic, songs like ‘Un-American’ offer a more stripped back performance from the band, while the catchiness of punk is delivered with some memorable hooks including ‘Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down,’ ‘Christian Nationalist’ and ‘Unbreakable,’ all complete with singalong sections guaranteed to rile a crowd up live. ‘You Make Me Sick’ is infinitely more direct in its message than most of the album (When I think about you, you make me sick/You’re a maniac, a liar, you’re a piece of shit,) while the title track offers a little more of a positive outlook.
The production on this album is top notch, with some great-sounding guitar work and tight drums. While not having that traditional ‘lo-fi’ edge that graces Anti-Flag’s earlier releases, the sleeker rock production helps in delivering a clear message from the band of political defiance.
Anti-Flag have unleashed an album that (to borrow a gaming term) will separate the true punks from the casuals. Whether you agree with its contents or not, 20/20 Vision is the first of (I’m hoping) some solid releases coming this year from the punk world, and cements the band among the heavyweights in a genre that, thanks to the current political climate, continues to remain relevant in 2020, despite what certain corners of Twitter might have you think.
Anti-Flag – 20/20 Vision tracklisting
1. Hate Conquers All
2. It Went Off Like A Bomb
3. 2020 Vision
4. Christian Nationalist
5. Don’t Let The Bastards Get You Down
7. The Disease
8. A Nation Sleeps
9. You Make Me Sick
11. Resistance Frequencies