Refused - The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts
Six-and-a-half minutes into this album, and I'm already highly confused. Ok, I can deal with the feedback-strewn opening. I can deal with you throwing every available chord at me. I can deal with your tempo changes. I can deal with the fantastic drumming. But seriously, dropping '90's synthy-pop that the likes of Orbital or Underworld would be proud of? What? With a (possibly) Spanish man talking? You're having a laugh.
But I guess that's what The Shape of Punk to Come is all about. Arsing about with what was there and seeing whether it worked. And by God, does it. Whether intending to or not, Refused came along and shook up the order of punk every which way they desired, and changed the state of play for each and every act to follow. A double bass solo in the middle of "The Deadly Rhythm"..? A xylophone plinking along for a cheeky two-minute interlude-esque "Bruitist Pome #5"..? An acoustic album-closer with a thumping double bass accompanying it..? Why the fuck not?
And the more I listen to this album, the more I feel that this album is built around that moment in the crush and the sweat of the crowd, when those between and betwixt those others betwixt and between think, "Oh no...they've quietened down...GET THE FUCK READY TO MOSH." And my oh my, that would be an experience. "Liberation Frequency", for example. The first 70 seconds are pure build-up to that moment when not only Messrs. Lyxzén, Sandström, Steen and Brännström go apeshit, but the entire crowd starting punching the rest of the entire crowd and probably themselves. In the face. Repeatedly.
This album has clearly given so much to musical genres ranging from alternative rock to thrash metal, and a vast amount of bands must have this stonker of a record to thank - to name a few: The Used, Anthrax, Sonic Boom Six, Paramore, Blink-182, and any other band that also featured on the first four Tony Hawk games - as well as notable bands from my youth: Lostprophets, Rage Against The Machine, Linkin Park, Green Day, and that other US three-piece I've thrown into the above.
It was most definitely a game-changer. One that made it okay for a rock/punk-rock/altern-rock/metal/thrash-metal/hardcore band to take a breather before, after and during a track. One that enticed and excited a more than over-excited crowd to really get down with the mosh, as it were. And one that made dozens of bands out there realise there was more to punk than two minutes, two chords and two half-arsed guitar riffs.
Audacious, adventurous, experimental, and downright absurd, Refused managed to put together one of the finest punk albums of a generation, while throwing a curveball that countless musicians caught in one way or another.
Key Tracks: "Liberation Frequency", "The Deadly Rhythm", "New Noise", "Bruitist Pome #5"
Refused Are Fucking Dead: My choice to underline that little word 'are' is because this statement - the name of a track from The Shape of Punk to Come - is true. So explosive and destructive was this record that it was the last the band made. Well, I say 'the band'; they never actually had a permanent bassist, sadly. Also, Refused Are Fucking Dead was the title of a documentary, filmed by the band's guitarist Kristofer Steen and released in 2006. Within it, the band are seen to explode during their US tour, so the irony in the title is evident. Well worth a watch too, kids.