Top 10 essential Refused
We asked STU HARVEY, former host of triple j’s Short.Fast.Loud, to choose the 10 most important songs of Refused’s career.
When coming up with a list of essential Refused tracks, it’s hard not to include so much of The Shape Of Punk To Come. Released in 1998, it really was one of those albums that came along unexpectedly and turned everything on its head. The album polarised, I suspect by design. I still have staunch hardcore mates who despise it and the band.
Perhaps Refused’s best known song and, in many ways, one that sums up the entire Shape Of Punk To Come album: A call for change, to live with an open mind and ask questions, particularly of those in control. No song has ever done quiet/loud so perfectly. The intro still gives me goose bumps 14 years later – that guitar, the beat, the electronic refrain, “Can I Scream?!”
Pump The Breaks
This is the sound of a young Refused from back in 1994. To understand what made their later recordings so impressive you need to visit where they started; the band were playing metal tinged hardcore, that took influence from US acts such as Earth Crisis with whom the Swedes shared similar political and ethical beliefs. Great to see that this track still appears in setlists from the reformed band 18 years later.
A song that originally appeared on the Rather Be Dead EP that was released between Songs To Fan The Flames and The Shape…. The lyric points to a “circle pit” as an analogy of just how conformist punk rock had become: “One more round. One more round. We wouldn’t want to tread new ground.
Rather Be Dead
The opening track on their second album Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent demonstrates the significant progression the band had made from their early days. It was the first real hint that the band wanted to expand their sound and challenge what was expected of and called hardcore.
I always loved this song because it combines a revolutionary call to arms with that classic punk rock “get on the stage” spirit that was preached by fellow Euro’s Spermbirds. The lines of Coup D’etat scream: “Revolution with a catchy phrase/Shitty band with an awesome plan.”
Worms Of The Senses / Faculties Of The Skull
“They told me the classics never go out of style, they do, they do. Somehow baby, I never thought that we do to.” From that moment on, this seven-minute piece throws all conventional punk songwriting structure out the window and dares the listener to come along for the ride.
The Shape Of Punk To Come
Refused embraced the very ethos of punk rebellion and challenged what the genre could sound like. In doing so, they created an album that will go down in history as one of the most important of its genre ever released.
The production of the Shape Of Punk… album is incredible. The impact that can be given through space and silence is demonstrated flawlessly on this track. To get a complete understanding, I suggest you grab some headphones and listen to the full album from beginning to end.
The Deadly Rhythm
Solos are frowned upon and seen as unnecessary in punk and hardcore, so I love that Refused decide to push the rules one step further. ‘The Deadly Rhythm’ features a bass solo at the heart of the song.
Refused Are Fucking Dead
They came back to life and thankfully we finally get to see them in Australia and I can not wait. See you in the pit.