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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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  • 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