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The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombation In 12 Bursts

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★★★★½
(117 Reviews)

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  • man… this album is so damn invigorating, its like sticking your head out of a window into the coldest most refreshing breeze ever.

    Its really hard to believe this album came out in ‘98 but even more staggering are the ammount of people who have never heard it, but listen to the bands refused had influenced.

    This is just pure fist raising danceable absolutely furious hardcore, but there are alot of surprisingly moving moments that arent bent on ripping your head off. When dennis sings ” I got a bone to pick with capitalism, and a few to break!” (and his accent only further adds to the enjoyment factor for me…for some reason or other) you just have to scream along. This album is political yeah… but the politics are more from a personal standpoint, speaking of how things such as arrogant dictators, or corporate smothering, and droning thankless full time jobs affect ones life and desires.

    I couldnt say enough good things about this record, even the ugly parts make the whole thing so engaging… they are not the most mind bendingly technical musicians, but these kids could play, but alot of the really complex stuff is kind of subtle. the songwriting on this album is so unconventional and refreshing, and completely satisfying, which proves that you really dont have to care about what meshes well together, but emphasise on instinct.

    This is one of the rawest and most beautiful moving albums I’ve ever heard, and its damn catchy at parts too… just buy it. it will grow on you. It makes me want to sabotage a corrupt precinct or something. this is everything you love about rock music… just buy it or steal it or whatever, youd be missing out if you didnt.

    Posted on January 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Refused is so groundbreaking that it has been a full five years since the release of this album and nothing has come close yet. “We express ourselves in loud and fashionable ways.” Hell they do, this is the single most bone jarring punk album I have ever heard. I’ll be the first to admit, I listen to some pretty generic music sometimes because of a great hook or a radio single. With that said though, I feel pleasured to be able to experience something this awesome any time I like, being a proud owner of this album. The musicianship is all over the place as well as off the charts. That’s so refreshing to know that a band just doesn’t touch on a few different ideas but throws them full force into a crazy idea that melds hardcore riffs with punk melodies and throws in enough different instruments to make an entire concert band along the way. A more powerful message has not emerged lately either. Refused is so blunt and yet so creative about their message that it is so much more irresistible. The lead track(s) “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull” powers a rhythm against capitalism and then shifts to chanting “Let’s take the first bus out of here.” It’s a truly powerful way to begin the album, there is plenty of loud music, and of course what makes the album so interesting, techno beats and a great tune. The distortion turns to flashing guitars and back to the same form in which it came, all so captivating during the piece. It even dissolves into the next track, my favorite song on the album, “Liberation Frequency”. The track is a bit more simplistic than the other tracks, but it rocks oh so hard. The gentle verses build to a scorching chorus that pounds while it catches you. A stunning track, it gets you with melody and the lyrics. Being a fan of this band, you have to agree with their message about mainstream. “What frequency are you getting? Is it noise or sweet sweet music?” Another ingenious track follows “Liberation Frequency” (although not directly following, it picks up where “Liberation Frequency” leaves off). Certainly not as heavy as the preceding tracks and probably the only one which features an actual melody, “Summerholiday vs. Punkroutine” is one of my favorites. It mimics nothing I have heard from a punk band, ever. An interesting interlude following the first four tracks. Well placed, this serves to slice the album down the middle, since so much has already been thrown at you. Refused has a funny way of surprising you though. They punch you in the face a minute into the only single “New Noise”. A dramatic buildup leads to, a little bit of distortion. But as soon as you think there is a calm, in comes the scream of “Can I scream?” (How very appropriate). The song alternates between the heavy, screeching chorus and the laid back verses. At the climax, the rants go “We dance to all the wrong songs, We enjoy all the wrong moves”. A powerful message about making your own “noise” as they would call it, this track is infectious on so many levels. The absolutely ferocious ending lends yet another star to this intriguing piece. I can actually say, there is one track on the album that does not full satisfy me. The repetitive and relentless “Refused Party Progamme” is a step for the politics of the band, but not necessarily a musical necessity. Thankfully, however, that this bears no negativity on my mind, for the next few tracks following make up for it, and really make it at least fit in the puzzle of this album. “Protest Song ‘68″ goes on the grounds of the third track, “Deadly Rhythm”. Both are very catchy in their own right, and as the first track preaches about the evils of standardized labor, the second fills in the gap about going in new directions, singing a new song, almost literally. Both go about their messages in an in-your-face fashion which intensifies both of them. The truly oddly, and probably as a foreshadowing, titled “Refused are [*] Dead” proceeds like any of the other tracks for a while, alternating verses and chorus, screaming along the way, and a driving guitar riff. However, this track ends with the most melodic notes shown on the entire album. The lyric, as I introduced at the beginning of the review, is a truly marvelous expression, and is captured so well in this song. Following that is another seed of revolution, “The Shape of Punk to Come”. There seems to be yet another shift though. The eerie violin opening of the eleventh track, Tannhäuser/Derivè sets the stage for an unexpected thrash that lasts through the middle of the song. Even an entire manifesto found its way onto the pages of the CD booklet. There is a lot to say about such a deep and driving album. The finale though, is simple. A few strums on the guitar, and a few notes from Dennis. It is acoustic, yes, and perhaps aptly so. The rage of the album really does boil down to what the band has to say, and not the ferocity of the drums, or the screeching guitars really say what the band has to say. This album is entirely unique and will never be doubled like many of today’s albums, and sadly, many that I own. But being unique is a difficult thing to do, and Refused does it wonderfully. So I urge the purchase of this brilliant album, and although it turned out that it does not predict the shape of punk to come it still is the pillar of modern hardcore. What this band did with one swipe of the guitar and one scream from the singer outlasts many bands career accomplishments. The word may never get out, but to the lucky few, this is what music is all about.

    Posted on January 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Now THIS is punk! I know, I know, REAL punk, as defined by the Ramones, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, etc., has been “dead” for quite some time now, and all these pathetic groups that think they’re rebels just because they dye their hair weird colors are driving rusty nails into punk’s coffin, however……REAL punk is truly about being rebellious from the norm. REAL punk bands aren’t that well-known (at least at the time–so many people in the ’70’s had a clue who the Ramones were at first). REAL punk is often politically outspoken.And here, Refused have–or rather, HAD–all these traits. Led by Dennis Lyxzen (now fronting the [International] Noise Conspiracy), Refused wrote songs about anything from how history books lie (their famous song, “Burn It”), to how they themselves were making a difference in the music world. Just…look at some lyrics online. You’ll see what I mean.Now, for their absolute musical talents.The subtitle to this CD is “A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts.” This is so simply the truth. Here we have songs ranging from (actually talented) straight-out hardcore (“New Noise,” one of my favorites), jazz-influenced (“Liberation Frequency” and “The Deadly Rhythm”-on this latter one, just listen to the bridge of the song! Pure jazz!), and often bordering on…techno (like on the latter half of the first track, “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull,” as well as “Brutist Pome #5″).Dennis Lyxzen has quite a range of vocals in his voice; from unbelievably hardcore screams that put all the new “screamo” bands to pure shame, to spoken-word, to falsetto-pitched melodies. This guy is very talented. Again, for more, check out some of his work with the (International) Noise Conspiracy.Kristofer Steen and Jon Brannstrom: two guitarists that, while they obviously know quite a few things on playing the strings, don’t overdo it or rub it in your face. They can be heavy, they can be soft, they play acoustic, electric, whatever!Magnus Bjorklund, a very talented bassist. He helps pull in some more of the jazzier parts, especially on said bridge of “The Deadly Rhythm,” where he plays a standing bass….and then there’s David Sandstrom, drummer extraordinaire. He can do it all: jazzy, quieter parts; loud, snare-heavy abominations of noise. He’s so damn fast, he’s…UGH! LISTEN TO THIS MAN PLAY!Sadly, Refused broke up in 1999, less than a year after completing this album, which to me is their absolute magnum opus. Raid Amazon and your local used stores for this band’s music! Other notable albums to get include EVERLASTING, SONGS TO FAN THE FLAMES OF DISCONTENT, and the EP released in conjunction with this album, the NEW NOISE E.P.CAN I SCREAM!!?

    Posted on January 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Metal riffs and vocals? Techno beats? Seven minute songs? That’s not punk!My first introduction to Refused was seeing the video for “New Noise” on MTV’s 120 minutes. For the first minute and a half I thought I was watching a bad techno video.Then the guitars kicked in and Dennis squealed “can I scream?” and well, I had to change my undies and pick my jaw up off of the floor.If you’re wondering about the style of music, think of Drive Like Jehu teaming up with Unsane and playing Helmet covers next door to a techno club.I think it must be said that this band DOES owe a sizable creative debt, as it’s been mentioned before, to Nation Of Ulysses, for those of you not in the know, NOU was a D.C. hardcore band on the Dischord label in the early 90’s and had peers in the burgeoning post-hardcore scene in Fugazi and Jawbox, and released the albums “13 Point Plan To Destroy America,” and “…Plays Pretty For Baby.” Refused have a lot in common with NOU both in their lyrics (though NOU were less political than Refused) and in the manifesto-style presentation of their music.Interesting side-note: members of NOU went on to form the Make-Up, which applied their D.C. style punk to soul music, while Dennis of Refused formed the similarily styled International Noise Conspiracy.It should also be mentioned that in the manifesto printed in the liner notes, the text accompianing “Refused are f***ing dead” are almost verbatim lyrics from the Born Against song “Born Against are f***ing dead.” You could give flak to Refused for borrowing so much from Born Against and Nation of Ulysses, but I’m sure it was done in a sincere tribute to both of those bands, and not a rip-off. I might also add that Nation Of Ulysses and Born Against are two of my very favorite bands ever, and all three bands shared a similar goal: to shake up the stale punk rock scene.Of course none of these bands really succeeded, for the current punk scene is still rife with NOFX and Screeching Weasel clones, but Refused, NOU and Born Against albums all sell very well by hardcore standards, and will influence punk kids for years to come, I’m sure. Maybe if we’re lucky in a few years we’ll begin to see the changes these bands wanted to see. Besides, they could have gone ahead and (shudder) aped the Korn/Limp Bizkit style of rap-metal.All in all, this is a very good album filled with heavy energetic music, and is well worth what you’ll pay for it. Do yourself a favor, though, if you like this, be sure to pick up both Nation Of Ulysses albums on Dischord and both Born Against albums on Vermiform to pick up where Refused were coming from

    Posted on January 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I decided to download “The Shape Of Punk To Come” completely on a whim, based solely on the rave reviews I saw on this site. To put it mildly, my decision was vindicated. “The Shape Of Punk To Come” is one of those rare albums that both blow you away upon first listen and then get better with time. It’s loosely classifiable as punk, but you certainaly don’t need to be a punk fan to enjoy it. Nirvana, schmirvana: Kurt Cobain wouldn’t have put out an album this diverse and genre-bending if he had lived to be a million. I can’t even put into words how powerful this album is, how much visceral impact it contains, how much utter steamrolling FORCE it hits you with. Dennis Lyxzen’s vocals are often pure venom, the guitars pummel you relentlessly, and David Sandstrom’s drumming hits harder than a brick dropped from the top of the Empire State Building. Listening to this album, it’s obvious how much energy and conviction was put into each and every song. This is music without rules, without reservations, and without apology. I’d love to play it for the 98-pound, Good Charlotte T-shirt-wearing “punks” I see at the mall just to see the looks on their faces.What’s even more important than anything I’ve said above, though, is that Refused were intelligent and methodical about their sonic destruction. As its title suggests, “The Shape Of Punk To Come” is a punk album in the truest sense of the word: it’s harsh, it’s abrasive, and it’s rooted in a deep sense of antagonism toward the mainstream. While all that’s nice, it doesn’t make for a classic album on its own. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to “The Shape Of Punk To Come” than stereotypical three-chord, two-minute testosterone fests. Thanks to a level of creativity and musicianship high for any genre but stunning for punk, Refused showed a keen aptitude for composing memorable and interesting songs.While suffering from no shortage of punkish aggression, this album is also filled to the brim with intense metallic heaviness, and Refused also threw in a few other genres just for good measure. Songs like “Worms Of The Sense/Faculties Of The Skull,” “Protest Song ‘68,” and “Refused Are F***in Dead” boast jarring, angular structures that could make a guy with no neck bang his head, but that’s not all. The album is filled with melodic, ambient, and even jazzy interludes, providing a nice contrast from the mayhem that’s often on display. “Liberation Frequency,” my personal favorite, starts out with Dennis’s subdued mantra of “We Want The Airwaves Back,” and then a barrage of paralyzing shrieks and piercing guitar noise comes out of nowhere. The resulting dynamic is so dramatic you may well need a neck brace after hearing it for the first time. In a strangely fitting move, the band decided to close out the album with an acoustic song, the oddly-titled “The Apollo Programme Was A Hoax.” After the insane roller coaster ride preceding it, I kind of like hearing a calmer piece that ends everything on a mellow note.Listening to these guys, I can’t help but think about how tragic it is that they broke up so early, not to mention how tragic it is that I just discovered them about three months ago. Unfortunately bands like Refused are too good to be on the radio, but this is what punk should be. No, scratch that, this is what MUSIC should be: inventive, challenging, uncompromising, and unconcerned with the opinions of the masses. The loss of a band like Refused truly is a loss for music.

    Posted on January 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now