Album Review: Anti-Flag – “A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013”

Depending on where you hang out around the internet, you may or may not be familiar with the running joke that Anti-Flag is your fifteen-year-old self’s favorite band. The accessibility of their music combined with the (generally) non-specific politically charged lyrics are often cited as “evidence” that Anti-Flag is a “beginner punk band”, so to speak, and that they are an act to be dismissed by veteran punks. And yet, even in the face of these criticisms, Anti-Flag has stuck it out and has been going on strong for 21 years with plenty of punk fans, old and new. So what better way to acknowledge this achievement than to release a comprehensive greatest hits collection? That’s where A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013 comes in.

Boasting twenty-six songs taken from nine different albums that have been put out on six different labels, (For those who aren’t keeping track: New Red Archives, Go-Kart Records, Fat Wreck, RCA, SideOneDummy, and, of course, the band’s own A-F Records), A Document of Dissent is one hell of a compilation. Collecting everything between singles like “Turncoat” and “One Trillion Dollar$” and old classics like “Die for the Government” and “That’s Youth” to newer tracks like “Broken Bones” and “The Economy Is Suffering”, and even the fan-favorite “Spaz’s House Destruction Party”, A Document of Dissent  mostly lives up to its name by documenting every major album that Anti-Flag has put out since their earliest days. One could argue that tracks from their early singles and splits should have been included as well, to give a full documentation of exactly how far the band has come, but alas… listeners will just have to make do with these twenty-six tracks.

However, as impressive as the tracklist is, A Document of Dissent doesn’t really offer much incentive for longtime fans to pick it up. Most greatest hits packages include one or two brand new songs, or at the very least new recordings of old songs, but none of that makes it on here. Sure, it’s said that every track has been given a remastering courtesy of Mass Giorgini, but by the time you make it to the tracks pulled from The Terror State (roughly a third of the way into the album) there really isn’t much of a sonic difference. In this respect, A Document of Dissent pales in comparison to the 20 Years of Hell singles series (y’know, the other 20th anniversary celebration that Anti-Flag has been putting out), which is chock-full of new recordings of old tracks, and even a brand new song… not to mention songs by six up-and-coming bands that may just become your new favorite act. While there isn’t much here for hardcore Anti-Flag followers, A Document of Dissent is still a treat for any newcomers or casual fans of the band who have an interest in checking them out but didn’t know where to begin.

3/5 Stars

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