PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Anti-Flag: A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013

A comprehensive overview of 20 years of old-school punk protest and an alternate history of our nation’s turn from the 20th into 21st century.


A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013

Label: Fat Wreck Chords
US Release Date: 2014-07-22
UK Release Date: 2014-07-28
Artist website

It has taken me a while to get around to reviewing this disc because, on the day the package from Fat Wreck Chords arrived in the post, my elder teenaged son saw it and stole it for himself. It has taken a couple weeks to get it back, but that’s alright with me. You see, I happen to live in a rural, red state small town where the literal reading of the Bible and unquestioned patriotism are, for many, a norm. When raising children is such a community (and please understand there are many things I love about this place), the arrival of a collection like A Document of Dissent: 1993-2013, with its opening cry of “You’re gonna die! / Gonna die! / Gonna die for your government! / Die for your country! / That’s shit!”, offers not just a new piece of generic entertainment media, but an opportunity for counter-programming.

Over the course of 20 years, Pittsburgh’s Anti-Flag has not experienced the cross-over pop success of others among punk rock’s class of the early '90s or veterans of the Warped Tour. Not too surprising when one considers that, as their instrumental prowess and mastery of studio recording has grown over nine albums, so too has their discontent. They’ve gotten better, and angrier, with each album, but their commitment to unapologetic criticism of America’s many hypocrisies does not make for radio-friendly hit potential.

Anti-Flag has been lead singer/guitarist Justin Sane, guitarist Chris Head, drummer Pat Thetic, and bassist Chris #2 since their second album (their first was recorded as a trio of Sane, Thetic and Andy Flag on bass). All members contribute to songwriting, creating a tight group dynamic that has gelled over time into a powerful live presentation whose force, unlike others of the genre, is captured in their studio recordings. Even the material from their two RCA albums of the mid-aughts resonates with a sonic snarl that rises above the studio sheen.

A Document of Dissent is a generous overview of Anti-Flag’s career, offering 26 cuts representing all of their albums for a half dozen different labels and reuniting them with Fat Wreck Chords. Organized chronologically, it is an amazingly coherent collection and, with its catalog of reactions to events and conditions of the past 20 years, the anthology becomes something of an alternate history of our nation’s turn from the 20th into 21st century and the follies of our failures and missed opportunities. This impression is amplified by the collection’s excellent liner notes, where band members discuss the inspiration behind each song and which include a historical timeline linking major and minor-but-influential cultural events to the songs they inspired.

If you’re a punk fan and you don’t already have Anti-Flag in your collection, this is collection is a must. Such collections as this willoften tack on some new or unreleased tracks to tempt longtime fans. Anti-Flag and Fat Wreck Chords don’t bother with this ploy and they don’t need to here. Even fans who have heard all of this material previously should enjoy this total package of excellent songs and deep insight into this important but too often underappreciated band.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.


The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.