Refused – “The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts”
Released: 1998 Genre: Punk/Hardcore/Emo/Screamo
Influenced: At the Drive-In/The Mars Volta, Isis, Thursday, Panic! at the Disco
From the moment this album begins with a sound byte declaration of “They told me the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do. Somehow baby, I never thought that we’d do too,” privileged listeners become immediately cognizant of an impending assault of creativity comparable to few other sources. Now over 13 years old and the extreme polar opposite of “dated,” this work of Swedish hardcore rockers sounds as fresh and edgy as ever, thankfully rendering that intro’s self-fulfilling prophecy unfounded. Pit Shape against any punk album since and many would have a fit trying to comprehend how it has gone so unnoticed in the mainstream and calculating an assumed release date would prove equally as trying. As the United States continues to toil in rocky, murky economic waters, the opening lyric “I’ve got a bone to pick with capitalism / And a few to break” could give the Occupy movement a potential rallying call. From “Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull,” the newly-hooked travel through some radio station signals (interludes that were totally jacked by Panic! at the Disco on their work A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out) to land on “Liberation Frequency,” a track about the band’s desire to hear more envelope-pushing music dominate the airwaves, vocally highlighted by: “We don’t just want air time / We want all the time / All of the time.” After the eardrum clapping “The Deadly Rhythm” (with jazz ensemble intro), the more catchy “Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine,” and the acid jazz break “Bruitish Pome #5,” the album’s cornerstone track “New Noise” begins to unfold with marching band drums building upon a repetitive guitar sequence. After a slowed-down house music sidestep, vocalist Dennis Lyxzen returns to yelp: “Can I scream?,” hoping that the louder he offers the option to listen to more challenging works of art, the more people will heed the call. Some of the most incredible audio engineering exists midway through this LP when, as “New Noise” comes to a prolonged, screeching close, a live speech about capitalism actually being “organized crime” is blended in as a skit/intro to “Refused Party Program,” creating the illusion that the previous song was being performed on stage all along. More calls for revolution are announced in “Protest Song ’68,” a plea for people to revert back to the proactive mindset of the 1960s. By the time one gets to the tour de force “Tannhauser / Derive,” exhaustion may have settled in, but the Celtic violin startup will redux the hype that has been similarly insisted upon by Dropkick Murphys in their more recent and popular classic “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.” Front-to-back, The Shape of Punk to Come is a must-own and appears to only have grown in terms of relevance and importance.