Anti-Flag Credit: Josh Massie

For the better part of 30 years, Pittsburgh band Anti-Flag have made unapologetically confrontational political punk, cranking out fervent, hook-driven diatribes against facism, racism, animal cruelty, the surveillance state, and other social ills. They’ve also walked the walk, using their band as a platform to support a variety of causes (among them Amnesty International, the ACLU, Greenpeace, and Pittsburgh’s Center for Victims of Violence and Crime) and playing free shows at protests and demonstrations, including one outside the 2008 Republican convention. They’ve even launched a couple of organizations of their own; one of them, Military Free Zone, opposes military recruiting in schools. And while many punk bands become more complacent with age, Anti-Flag have only grown more resolute in their fight for social justice, and you can feel their rage in their music. In 2018 they released American Reckoning, which compiles acoustic versions of songs from their previous two albums (2015’s American Spring and 2017’s American Fall) with a few protest-rock covers (including John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth”) and highlights their lyrical chops with its mix of dark and lighthearted moods. On the upcoming 20/20 Vision (Spinefarm), they’re going straight for the jugular of the Trump administration and all the theocrats, white supremacists, gun lobbyists, and other right-wing thugs in its gravitational pull. The title track is a pop-punk indictment of the way alternative media frameworks developed by punks in the 80s and 90s to challenge power structures have been co-opted by the alt-right at the expense of the left. Album opener “Hate Conquers All” begins with a sample from a Trump speech before the band dives into a grooving, anthemic ripper that rejects the idea that love alone can beat those who seek to destroy us. Rather than mire listeners in a sense of helplessness, Anti-Flag urge them to be strong and get involved in the fight: as vocalist-guitarist Justin Sane sings in “Unbreakable,” “What doesn’t kill us now / Will lead us back from hell.”   v