When you think of the band Anti-Flag
a normal listener will most likely have images of whiny political punkers complaining about the state of our country. Why yes, there is quite the amount of complaining going here, with good reason however. At the time of the record release the United States was truly in crisis with the aftermath of 9/11 and the war in Iraq. Ok, so that is not grounds for complaining to some, understandable in a sense, but if you keep an open mind towards the subject the band will enlighten you with their mass amounts of research and knowledge. Crack open the CD case and pull out the booklet, I dedicate this line to anyone who has ever said “Anti-Flag mindlessly bitches about things and never does anything about them.” Inside you will find specific dates and events in history, serving as motivation and inspiration for certain tracks. Specific examples are cited, even the sources are provided as well as links for listeners to load up as they continue their search for truth. Quite a lot of effort is put into the booklet here and before even listening to the record one will be able to tell that the band means business and is very focused on getting their message out. As the band’s last release on Fat Wreck Chords, they went out on a solid note as they transitioned onto a major label. While The Terror State
is incredibly political driven, it can still provide an enjoyable listen to those who do not agree with the viewpoints of the band due to the bands musical ability and variety.
While the band’s overall subject does not change, the specifics present do change. But enough about the message, lets go onto the music which contains even more variety than the lyrics. This is shown right away, as an acoustic chord intro opens up Turncoat
. A video was shot for this one and with good reason. Following the intro a nice riff comes out. The band’s trademark sound usually consists of a high pitched riff over a solid rhythm leading into a palm mute driven verse, as the opening track will prove. They manage to use their two guitarists very successfully for the most part. Than there is the bass, every time I hear #2’s sweet tone cutting through a section I always forget exactly how much bass can do to a song and to a band. His playing is very impressive throughout the album. As for the subject of the song, it is directed towards George W. Bush, what a surprise! The prechorus line of [i] “With you or against you than I am against you because you’re a…”[i] is quite the hook and lead in for the chorus. While a simple chant for the most part, the chorus is very effective “Turncoat, killer, liar, thief, criminal with protection of the law.”
During the last chorus #2 makes a great appearance on bass, shifting up his line with a crazy run and making the outro loads of fun along with Pat’s ending roll. Up next is Rank-N-File
, which is often singled out as a bit of a poppy song. To be honest, I can somewhat see it but to me this is what the band does best, as they continue to exercise their trademark sound with a few twists. A bit of a distant sounding intro of vocals, single guitar, and drums are in play before a high riff comes out. The pickslide during the verse is extremely well placed as is the little guitar fill. As far as the vocal work, Justin does a great job here, his voice never becomes overly whiny and really puts out a lot of emotion. The soft bridge adds a nice touch to the song, and while the instrumentals are solid, a solo is still anticipated.
Well after two more songs one finally comes out during Power To The Peaceful
. A nice little drum intro opens this one, keeping the variety going. The guitar and bass work during the verse is so well put together, as the parts flow in and out of each other ever so fluently. Lead vocals are handled by #2 on this one, and his lower pitched voice fits the song perfectly. Following the first chorus, there is an awesome build up section with some great drumming. They fit a bridge after the second chorus, which serves as the perfect lead in for the solo. As usual, not a blistering fast or super technical solo is present because this is punk not metal. However, the solo does exactly what it needs to; it fits the song well and pulls out accents that the other sections do not while maintaining the identity set forth previously. The song is extremely well put together and offers something new in the guitar solo and drum intro, making it very enjoyable. Ever seen the movie V for Vendetta? You will recall V saying that a person can die but ideas do not. That is the main subject of You Can Kill the protestor but you can’t kill the Protest
. Quite the mouthful of a title, but the line “Bullets can’t silence ideas”
is one of the most memorable ones from the band. This two and a half minute song is a very fast powerchord driven song, yet the band still manages to incorporate plenty of melody into the sound. Vocals are handled by #2 yet again, and his voice is perfect once more, providing a certain level of discontent and anger he only can. Lyrics really do stand out here.
“You can spoon my eyes out,
but I can still see through you
Slice my ears from my head,
but you can't shut out the sounds of the truth
Lock off each hand at the wrist
so I can't raise my fist!
The wonderfully written lyrics as well as their powerful delivery make this song extremely enjoyable and memorable. It captures a certain level of rage that only few songs achieve. One of the strongest intros on the record is found in Tearing Down The Borders
. A sole guitar starts this one off and persists atop of some start stop rhythms before a fresh roll sends this one off to its upbeat pace. During the verse the palm muted guitar and vocals provide quite a somber atmosphere. The unique contrast of that and the intro really works out well and the whoa oh’s during the chorus add another new texture to the song. A lot of different sounds are put into this one, and due to their ideal placement, things work out great. For such a “whiny little political band” the boys of Anti-Flag
sure know how to successfully organize a song. Save from the verse, this songs upbeat sound is the perfect song to put before Death Of A Nation
. Remember the angst discussed in You Can Kill…, well it comes back here. Right from the get go an aggressive pace is set. The dropped D guitars only add to the fury here as the band discusses there anger towards the people who call their generation condescending. About 80 seconds into things, the madness slows as a mellow bridge comes out. The calm state does not last very long as things explode into a brief but rapid powerchord driven outro. Clocking in at under two minutes, things resemble an old school hardcore driven punk song, which the band is capable of writing but often does not. They choose to exercise it here and while a bit different than their normal sound, it works fantastically and certainly has a place on the record.
As things come to a close, the band ends with an incredibly strong track in One People, One Struggle
. The opening chant of “The people united will never be defeated”
is a request for unity and agreement. Following the chant, a trademark riff over a strong rhythm comes out. The riff is a little slower than some of the previous, and it really grabs out a lot of emotion. Overall this song has that effect as while the instrumentals are a little standard for the band, the vocal delivery along with the lyrics are just so convincing. “Everywhere you look red, white and blue, everywhere you look they’re fooling you! One people, one struggle, stand united, stand peaceful.”
serves as the perfect prechorus and chorus respectively. It is a darn good thing this one gets repeated, and following the second chorus a very bass driven bridge comes into play. The last half of the bridge is very slow build up with moderate drums and slowly picked high pitched guitar notes. After a measure or two of that, the intro chant comes out again. A drum roll sends things into a place I never knew the band could touch. The main chorus line, the intro chant, and the main guitar riff all come out during the last chorus. I never thought I would use this word to describe the band, but this is a darn epic final song on the record. It carries a strong message and is executed ever so convincingly. This song marks a true classic tune from the band.
Well if it isn’t obvious by now, this is quite a strong effort put forth by the band. The instrumentals are not at a peak, but they are certainly good as riffs are put together nicely as are the rhythms done under them. Of course bass often carries certain sections as #2 is one of the best in the genre. Drums have some very fitting rolls and fills when the situation calls for it, but mainly just do a rock solid job of holding things together. Vocals from both members are done wonderfully as they really know which songs to exercise their voice on. However, the lyrics and subjects will not appeal to some. I feel as though this is a bit more politically driven than some of the other albums by the band which will cause mixed reactions. If this will cause you to have a bad reaction and lyrics mean that much to you, I would stray away from this one if the instrumental work does not sound appealing. For those looking to get into the band, this is a great place to start and while this sums up their sound fairly well, I will recommend their latest release over this. Fans of the band will find a great deal to like here hopefully, as implied previously this is not their strongest release but far from their worst. The mix of sounds, solid instrumentals, superbly delivered vocals, and overall well put together songs found on The Terror State
serve up quite the nice listen from a band who truly does mean what they say in Anti-Flag
Final Rating: 3.5/5