Last year during a tour with Billy Talent, Anti-Flag’s bassist Chris #2 (Chris Barker) was called home under horrific and tragic circumstances. Chris’ sister and her boyfriend were both murdered, leaving behind their two young children. Understandably the band were devastated and took some time off to come to terms with such a terribly senseless act of violence. To help with the grieving process though, like so many people before them, they turned to music for solace and as a release. The liner notes reveal that “one of our gut reactions to this situation was musical”. The result of this period of writing is this EP – all the proceeds of which will go towards The Center (Centre) for Victims of Violence and Crime in the hopes that those who find themselves in similar situations to Chris #2’s family may receive more support.
It is interesting to note that on an EP against violence, there are no songs that explicitly deal with the subject. There are anti-war songs, which are kind of
anti-violence; but this is nothing new for the band as it is a subject that they have written about countless times before. Therefore, it is questionable whether the writing process for this EP was in fact a way of releasing emotions concerning murder and violence, or just another bunch of days at the office for the band. Nevertheless, the music here is good and it is being sold to aid a good cause – and that’s what counts.
Anti-Flag don’t really tread any new ground here. The songs aren’t too dissimilar to other songs from their back catalogue – this isn’t a bad thing; and most of the tracks on this EP should fit in nicely alongside songs from the bands back-catalogue in an A-F setlist. A song like ‘Anthem For The New Millennium Generation’
sees Justin Sane put in a brilliant performance on vocal duties and he is backed up (very) well with some excellent gang vocals from the two Chris’. Detractors from the punk genre often criticise the lack of musicianship involved, and to an extent they are right. Anti-Flag may not be the most accomplished musicians – but that is not the point. Here though, the musicianship is to a fairly high level and the band members abilities add to the quality of the EP. For example, there is an above average guitar solo in the aforementioned song as well as some excellent guitar lines in ‘No Paradise’
and the drumming is solid (yet nothing special) throughout. However, it is fitting that the real star of the show on this EP is Chris #2, who lays down some brilliant bass lines on nearly every song, especially on the short ‘Corporate Rock Still Sucks’
where his talents take a more central role. His bass-playing gives the songs a very upbeat and bouncy nature – politics has never been so fun!
In addition to the new songs on the EP, there are five live recordings of A-F classics. They are all (with the exception of ‘One Trillion Dollars’) brilliantly recorded, especially when you consider that they are live field recordings. The urgency and energy of songs such as ‘The Project For A New American Century’
and ‘No Borders, No Nations’
is reflected brilliantly here with Chris #2’s voice at its angriest and most aggressive. Although, in the interlude of the latter he extends the olive branch of peace, as it were, by inviting all those in attendance to “shake the person next to you’s hand…make a new friend”. Such acts maybe seen as cheesy and unnecessary, but it really drives home the fact that Anti-Flag are all about unity, especially when the songs here have such a unifying quality – fun, easy to learn/listen to. The one real low point on the album is a slowed down ‘One Trillion Dollars’
which sounds just dull, and the poor recording quality makes it even less enjoyable.
Aside from a weak ‘One Trillion Dollars’ and the completely unnecessary 9 seconds of ‘John Ashcroft Was A Nazi (Interlude)’
the tracks on this EP are all of a very high quality. This alone makes this limited edition EP a worthy purchase for any Anti-Flag fan. What makes this even more
of a worthy addition to your CD collection is the fact the proceeds go towards a good cause. As mentioned throughout the review, the songs here are of a very high quality, and with Anti-Flag’s new album ‘The Bright Lights of America’ due out March 31st (for us Brits) and April 1st (for Americans) this EP may also serve as a positive omen of things to come.