Some of things are for certain in life; death, taxes, and that political pop punk band Anti-Flag
would release an album after the horrific tragedy on 9-11. With their album Mobilize
the band had two goals in mind; the first to get some fresh songs out focusing on these events; and second to give the listeners their own concert at home, thus making the last half of the album some choice live cuts. While this is a nice combination, at times the album feels much slapped together as plenty of the new songs are quite short and reek of filler.
Justin Sane - Vocals and Guitar
Chris #2 - Bass and Vocals
Chris Head - Guitar
Pat Thetic - Drums
A highlight of the CD opens it up as 911 for Peace
is heard. The emotion felt on this track is just untouched from the rest of the record and their plea for peace is more of a pro-human song than an anti-war song. “We are all human. It's time to prove it."
The main riff to the song while quite simple is very effective at capturing the song’s mood. Lyrics stand out very much throughout the song, as musically the song is just straightforward with tight playing by the band and some very solid production. The snare sounds powerful as does the rest of Pat’s kit and Number 2’s bass is heard as usual with his crazy lines. In terms of structure, the song is done very well; for the bridge there is an exert from Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech." This might sound a little ridiculous but it fits the song and ends up extremely effective. It works as a sort of dramatic build up for the final chorus and is pulled surprisingly well as a great opener comes to a close.
The album takes a plunge very quickly as the next few tracks just do not seem to have the usual quality of Anti-Flag’s songs. For the most part, the music is just very bland and tedious. Of course Number 2 saves it in some cases as his lines continue to flow through the record. Mumia's Song
is in a gigantic slump half way through, as the vocals are quite uninspired, and the verse and chorus sound like they have been slopped together. A guitar solo tries to pull it out of a slump but the solo sounds like a recycled version of the “Tearing Everyone Down" solo from the album A New Kind of Army. Just about the only redeeming quality to the song is Number 2’s bass during the outro. What’s the Difference?
has possibly one of the worst main riffs ever written by the band. Much lower than in most of their songs but not for the better as at times it seems out of place. The drums seem to follow a pattern almost duplicating the previous track while not a single one of the axes stick out. In the end this goes from a bad song to seemingly just plain filler.
We Want to Be Free
is a bit of a step up. The riff sounds a bit more fitting, quite depressing actually but fits a theme. At times it feels as though the bass and lead guitar are both doing too much at one time. The layered vocals hit a few bad notes but for the most part are at least average. Right when the song is warmed up to, it ends as it clocks in at a mere 1:36. Once again a feeling of filler is felt, as this song feels as though it should have more to offer and maybe laziness prevented it from occurring. N.B.C. (No Blood-Thirsty Cooperation’s)
features a ridiculous sounding title but nevertheless is a decent song. Number 2’s bass just dominates the majority of this song as the guitars do not contribute much in terms of excitement. Some single note bends go over the last chorus which is almost a shame because Anti-Flag is capable of so much more. A feeling of indolence comes off of the very under-par guitars only for the reason that it is a major step down from the previous work. Their guitars are usually a huge quality that makes the band what they are. The only other redeeming quality aside from bass in the song is that the vocals sound livelier.
A quick drum fill opens Right to Choose
which is a definite improvement over the previous tracks. A good riff is finally heard, as it is the first one to catch the ears since the opening song. Number 2 takes over vocals on this track; his vocals always add variety to their records as his voice sounds much more aggressive and angry than Justin’s. With the bassist on vocals, the guitars do a good job of finally stepping up as some nicely composed leads are present in the chorus and bridge. This song is a great listen overall and a highlight for the new songs on this album. We Don't Need It!
contains a bit of a different sound for the band guitar wise. Some higher single notes are sustained, keeping rhythm for the bass to go to town over. This adds a very nice touch to the intro and stays persistent throughout the verses. Drum wise the song does not have anything out of hand, but Pat helps keep everything tight and does it in good fashion. The trademark bridge returns as a single palm muted guitar and vocals make up the first half of it. An exceptionally tasteful solo comes in after the bridge, surprising the listener as it adds so much intensity to the song despite its moderate tempo. Another song with playability is present.
Anatomy of Your Enemy
is an interesting concept they went a bit overboard with. The whole song hardly contains music; it is more the 10 steps the public and “ruling party" does to create an enemy as being said by a guy. The fact that they took up a whole song to do this is a bit over the top. After 911 it’s certain they wanted their views out and this song is effective at doing that, but not much more. It puts a very sour taste in the mouth of listeners at the end of the new songs on the record. Overall, the new songs are certainly not strong enough to be on an album by themselves, as they are very under-par in some cases. Judging just the new material, the record would be merely average; as half the songs suffer from problems including bland instruments, uninspired vocals, and reeking of filler. On the other side, the songs that are worth listening to are very good and memorable. It seems Anti-Flag either hit or missed with their new tracks. Now instead of ending the record like this, they decided to add some classic live tracks to the end, which brings up the value of this CD tremendously.
The live songs really add something new to this album, as it becomes a half studio half live record. First off, a positive comes in the fact that the crowd is present but by no means overpowering. It is a huge annoyance at times on a live CD when the crowd just dominates entire songs, but this is not the case here. Mixing wise everything sounds good and groovy; not too much work was done and that is a definite positive as this does not become an overproduced version of live songs. Regarding the playing, most songs are very spot on to the record but with a much more energetic feel to them. At times the tone on the guitars varies which adds some much needed flavor to the different tracks. Also, backing vocals are much more present at times as Number 2 has the reputation to pull out some screams when the situation calls for it. Now Anti-Flag has a reputation themselves to do mini speeches before some of their songs live; thankfully here it is only present in A New Kind of Army
, as an overuse of the speeches would bring this half of the record down immensely. Regarding the tracks themselves, they picked from a variety of different albums and pulled out some great songs. The whole live track half album adds a new touch and not only gives the listeners a new prospective, but also pulls this album out of the average pool.
Final Rating: 3/5