Album Review: Refused The Shape of Punk to Come

By Scott Kara

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Rating: 5/5
Verdict: Essential reissue of classic and twisted 90s rock album

Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come. Photo / Supplied
Refused - The Shape Of Punk To Come. Photo / Supplied

Swedish hardcore band Refused were a tough and intense 90s band, yet often under-rated in an era that was plagued by nu metal.

This 1998 album was the band's finest and most fearsome statement, coming out the same year the band split up.

This three-disc reissue contains the original album, a live album from a 1998 show in their hometown of Umea and documentary Refused Are F****** Dead, which tells the story of the band's last tumultuous year together.

The secondary title of the album is A Chimerical Bombination In 12 Bursts - and "bursts" are what they are.

Even though many of the songs are upwards of five minutes, including the multi-part explosion of New Noise, they are brilliantly punishing bursts with singer Dennis Lyxzen's spewing guttural yowl.

Though the band's message is clear, and their politics brash - tackling everything from animal rights to moon landing conspiracy theories - it never sounds preachy because the instinctive power of the music reigns supreme (like on the metal-meets-Fugazi of Liberation Frequency).

But what makes this album so good is that Refused showed they were more than just a hardcore punk rock band. The songs are more like opuses, with angular and frenzied guitar-led excursions and brutal breakdowns alongside electronic beats, bleeps, and oscillations. The Deadly Rhythm, as the name might suggest, is hardcore jazz metal groove akin to Fantomas, interlude Bruitist Pome #5 is free jazz tech step drum 'n' bass that Grooverider would be proud of, and eight-minute long Tannhauser/Derive is what you might get if a hardcore band turned up at Womad. It's defiant music in both sentiment and sound.

- NZ Herald

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