How can a band that invented post-hardcore more than 20 years ago continue to do something outstanding? With their comeback album Freedom Refused proved in 2015, that they aren’t dead and can still keep up the pace with prevailing Hardcore bands. But once again the question: What is there more to come?
Exactly this: The new album of the Swedish Hardcore legends, called War Music, delivers exactly the energy, the revolutionary spirit and the driving riffs that have always been Refused’s trademark. And yet, many things seem different on War Music.
Already after the first tracks it becomes clear: War Music is probably the most multi-layered album that Refused have released so far. I’m listening to a cross section of what the Refused members, above all, of course, Dennis Lyxzén, have ever set up musically.
There is the obligatory epic-angry song Rev001, which provides the perfect opener with elegance and brute force at the same time (That Refused know how to start an album is clear since the Freedom Opener Elektra).
Then there’s Wanna Watch The World Burn, which reminds me of INVSN. The chaotic-intricate songs Damaged III, or Death In Vännäs carry a hint of an The International Noise Conspiracy sound. The Infamous Left or Turn the Cross deliver raw Hardcore Punk like known from Lyxzén’s and ex-Refused David Sandström’s band AC4. And fast-forward songs like Blood Red, Violent Reaction or Malfire sound like a successful mix of everything you ever heard from Refused.
As I write, I realize that Refused is probably the only band whose songs I compare with their own ones or with those of their side projects. But that’s what it’s like if you have a band that is a brand for itself.
Dennis Lyxzéns voice is as distinctive as ever. He proves once again that he can do everything – from soulful singing to bestial screaming. He sounds authentic in everything he does. Even songs that I did not expect, such as The Infamous Left, immediately burn-in as typical Refused songs.
As you might expect, War Music is much more than a collection of incredibly powerful songs. Refused once again deliver a left-wing political statement. They are not just angry, but certain to change something about the current political and economical situation:
„We still believe that capitalism is cancer
and we still believe it can be cured.
We still believe that the patriarchy is cancer
and we still believe it too can be cured.
We still believe in the power of art to transform and expand the mind.
And last but by no means least:
We still believe in the total violent obliteration of the one percent.
Blood red until we’re fucking dead.
Let’s go.“ – Refused
The Lyric Sheet that comes with the pre-listening material makes clear how much Refused care about their messages. The lyrics are completed by explanations and quotes from Pussy Riot, Karl Marx, Berthold Brecht or Oscar Wilde. But even controversial historical figures, such as RAF terrorist Ulrike Meinhoff, are quoted here. Exactly at this point it gets a little too hard for me to follow. Also in their own lyrics Refused show too much of violence for my taste. Even if I can follow their desire for a revolution as in Rev001, the call for blood on the streets (I Wanna Watch The World Burn) is too much overhead.
As much as I understand the idea of catharsis and that you have to destroy everything in order to build something new – I cannot identify with this kind of violence.
I find it difficult to find a conclusion for War Music, because musically I am thrilled. Heavy punching drums, rugged riffs and a brutal voice leave you out of breathe. This definitely sounds revolutionary. Also, the basic political orientation should not be surprising when you think of Refused, but this time they seem to span the content of a bit.
But this is undoubtedly clear: Refused manage once again to take a new direction with their, let’s call it activist hardcore sound.
With War Music, Refused released for the first time on the label Spinefarm. The 10-title and 34-minute strong album, which will be released on October 18, will promoted by the Swedes in four German cities as part of their co-headliner tour with Thrice in November:
04.11.2019 Köln, Carlswerk
05.11.2019 Hamburg, Große Freiheit
11.11.2019 München, Tonhalle
12.11.2019 Berlin, Huxleys
- Violent Reaction
- I Wanna Watch The World Burn
- Blood Red
- Turn The Cross
- Damaged III
- Death In Vännäs
- The Infamous Left
- Economy Of Death