Refused – Shape of Punk to Come

The best albums and the best bands are often such a transient thing. Whilst the Beatles may have changed the public face of music with their landmark album Sgt Peppers, >Refused> went somewhat unnoticed in their intellectually noisy revolution of punk and hardcore, with arguably no less effect. The Shape Of Punk To Come regularly appears in the top 10 influences list of metal and rock acts yet the act itself broke down soon after release, going on to various other projects including (International) Noise Conspiracy.

Amongst the hardcore rage and anti-corporate diatribe exists masterful rhythms and a dose of experimentation. The album opens suitably enough with a dash of spoken word and an aural punch in the face known as Worms Of The Senses, Faculties Of The Skull, packed with memorable riffs and a catchy offbeat hi-hat section, not to mention an outro that would have the meekest rock fan pumping the air. Picking favourites is hard as the following tracks Liberation Frequency, with its sing-a-long lo-fi feel, and the ferocious Deadly Rhythm really sell this album from the get go.

By the time things slow down for the interlude Bruitist Pome #5, it becomes abundantly clear that the usual lyrics and punk rhythms are eschewed by Refused, searching instead for a greater palette of angst and hardcore inspiration to work into their style. Coming out of the intro New Noise would be the most familiar track for those who might have caught its film-clip on Rage in the wee hours of the morning. Something of a build up anthem, bridging across a synthesised break, launches with the ferocious ‘can I scream’ from lead singer Dennis Lyxzen.

Working towards the end half of the album the spoken word and political poetics come to the fore, with filtered synth sweeps, FX and loops and even a violin mixed in amongst the typical twin guitars, bass and drums setup. Ending with the upright bass and acoustic guitars of The Apollo Program Was A Hoax the album somehow manages to work together as a whole, and stands to this day as one of Sweden’s greatest hardcore exports, whether the band is together or not. Today’s current crop of fashionably disaffected ‘rock stars’ could learn a thing or two from this statement of intelligent raw angst.