Anti-Flag For Blood and Empire

Casting aside the obvious debate as to how loud one can cry "sell-out” over resolute political punks Anti-Flag’s major label debut and seventh album For Blood and Empire, one must admit that as far as bands running a 10-year clock, this is a strong step forward. It’s too bad that the label change will probably see them now ignored by both old fans and the uneducated masses. Musically, this is one of their strongest efforts to date. Thank a methodical approach that plots out sonic attack and infuses a touch more accessibility via greater dynamics and an overall leaning towards more ’77 punk than the hardcore-tinged SoCal they’re known for. Anthemic and quite deliberate, virtually all of these tracks feature a driving beat that ranges from moderate ska influence to straight-up bashers and all points in between. It makes For Blood and Empire driven and catchy while still being deep enough to overflow with vitriol for the traditional targets: the U.S. government and political apathy. Overt (read: preachy) mandate aside, this is an impressive slide in keeping with 2003’s Terror State with a surprising degree of sentiment and feeling. (Sony BMG)