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Top 5 Bands With the Strongest Anti-Establishment Messages

What is Anti-Establishment?

The term Anti-Establishment is defined differently in different parts of the world. Commonly defined as "a view or belief in which one stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of society".

This means to be opposed to the ruling class in the UK, and "The Man" in the US. Anti-Establishment figures include Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, John Lennon, or the band Rage Against the Machine.

Anti-Establishment in Music

There has been a governing force, and for that, there has to be an opposing force. A few decades ago rock and punk music has been the messenger for being different and creating chaos in the seemingly ordered world, but nowadays it has been pushed by mainstream and popular music. The bands mentioned above have been there a few decades back, but now there is even less ground for the punk-metal-rock trio, not to mention the bands that are opposing the society. The list I will mention here is totally subjective (as no top lists are ever objective) and your own vision may differ from what I see.

For comparison, "California Über Alles" from The Dead Kennedys will represent the Anti-Establishment rock scene from the past.

#5 Red

The Nashville based band founded in 2002 has been widely known as a christian/alternative rock band. They have shown their true potential immediately with Grammy nominations for their first two albums "End of Silence" and "Innocence & Instict". They have also reached a Billboard 200 #2 place with "Until We Have Facces".

They grasped a #5 place here with their third studio album "Release the Panic". Some of the songs there are just having the true vibe of someone trying to break the limitations mankind is facing at the moment. Sadly, there is not much to go on with on this past as it is really just a couple of lines that really vibe with the mind of someone who likes to go against the wall sometimes.

The two songs worth mentioning here are "Feed the Machine" and "Perfect Life". They show exactly, how fragile the governing force is, but how tight their grip is on the minds of people. How easy it is to delude ourselves and play onto the hands of people unfit to lead us.

The best lines from "Perfect Life":

"My eyes are wide open,
I see the enemy, the hypocrisy
Your cover is fading
Secrets pouring out, castles falling down..."

#4 Avenged Sevenfold

There are, and will be two types of people: Those who think that Sevenfold deserves to be in a higher position, and those who think that they are not playing else but ripoff music.

For those who think it would deserve more: Avenged Sevenfold might have some message to send every now and then with a song or two, it is not sufficiently strong enough to climb higher.

For those who think they are a ripoff: I have to disagree with you. Although there are a lot of resemblances with older bands like AC/DC and Metallica, the careful lyrical and musical composition makes the band strongly differ in style from the bands mentioned before, although it is not a secret that inspiration has been drawn from there.

Avenged Sevenfold has never been shy to criticize the acting government when it needed be. But a song in every few years is not going to change the way people think. The label song of the latest album "The Stage" shows exactly how strongly they feel about political power plays and selfish beliefs. They have a message to send to every major political leader with their music video, but my personal problem with it was, that the music itself was just a background noise for the music video. On the other hand another really strong message has already been sent with "Unholy Confessions", where the band stood up against sending people overseas to die for no reason. Here I will show "The Stage" where you can see and decide for yourself if you agree with me on what I have been thinking about the relation of the music and the video.

The best lines in "The Stage":

"Who is the crowd, that peers through the cage,
As we perform here, upon the stage,
Tell me a lie, in a beautiful way,
I believe in answers, just not today..."

#3 Green Day

Where I am from, their albums, "Kerplunk" and "Dookie" was barely even legal when it went into the stores in the eastern side of Europe. Of course the point is on a punk-rock band whose sole point to exist was to show the people the error of their ways.

Clearly protesting against wars and unfair treatment, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool quickly became unbreakably popular in the mid '90s which they held with pride... Till 2009. For me, "21st Century Breakdown" was just a huge piece of mess, followed by the attempt of releasing 3 albums in a year: "¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré!", which definetely was the lowest point of the band (and that has been acknowledged by Green Day itself).

Green Day is deserving the spot right here, for the continous work towards equality and peace over the course of the last 30 years. Most of the messages are well hidden and so you have to read betwen the lines to understand where the message will take you, but once you get them, you feel how hard it really hits.

The hit song "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is a perfect example of how well the power of music and words have been built up.

The best lines in "Wake Me Up When September Ends":

"Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends..."

#2 Memphis May Fire

The band from Texas is pretty popular in the United States, but vaguely known in Europe or Asia. This makes them probably the most underground band in this list. They rarely leave the States for tours and if they do it is just a couple countries in Europe.

The reason they are on the list is their constant reminder of how twisted the world is. Although their album "No Ordinary Love" has not been as a hit as "The Hollow" or the following "This Light I Hold" their strong fight against the mainstream media and display of obvious problems with our generation earns the respect of a massive fanbase in America.

Out of "This Light I Hold" came the single "Carry On" with the intent to show the finger again to the mainstream media and human hedonism. The music video also puts in perspective, that the more someone becomes famous, the more they lose face.

The best lines from "Carry On":

Sell your soul for platinum,
Deny the truth for gold,
You can be the next big thing,
If you turn your back on what you know..:"

#1 Parkway Drive

The Australian metalcore band deservingly takes the number one spot in this ladder. They constantly show their ability to creatively criticize the acting government and it is not only true to just a part of the world, but to its whole. Of course mostly they just do some random act in their music videos like in "Karma" where they just grabbed (most of) their kit and went surfing to create an epic shoot, or "Vice Grip" where they did skydiving to the place of their music video gig.

Bottom line is: These guys are not afraid to be creative to get their message through to the listeners and viewers. Their latest album "IRE" has been a huge success all over the world. The musical fulfillment is whole with the song "Writings on the Wall" from the album. Where spoken word, piano and classical instrument elements collide with the hardcore metal to put an even greater emphasis unto what the band has to say.

The best lines from "Writings on the Wall":

"This stray dog world, this sick sad place
Got a belly full of maggots and disease
Every apple here is rotten, every blessing is a curse
Every word is a lie you best believe..."


Garrett on August 04, 2019:

Yeah RATM is more anti-establushment than all those bands combined.

Andrew on September 13, 2017:


Rage Against the Machine


Public Enemy


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