refused ireland 1998

Refused: A new sound for the next generation??

in Columns/Music Reviews by

One of the best feelings a music lover can experience is finding a piece of music history in a record store; for a punk kid living in the 2000s Refused was that band for me.

Punk rock didn’t have any flair anymore for me; Refused changed the status quo with their new ideas. This Swedish punk band from the small town of Umea formed in 1994, comprised of frontman Dennis Lyxzen, drummer David Sandstrom, guitarist Kristofer Steen and bassist Magnus Flagge.

Refused put out three albums: “This Just Might Be the Truth,” “Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent” and “The Shape of Punk to Come.” The Shape of Punk to Come pushed the boundaries of Refused’s capabilities, but in the end broke up the band for good. At this time in their career, Refused was trying to explore new directions rather than being pigeon-holed as just another hardcore band. Refused incorporated radical left and anti-capitalist political views throughout their music, which made their live shows a sight to be seen.

Not until Refused signed to Epitaph Records, founded by Bad Religion’s Brett Gurewitz, did people really start to realize that this band was before its time.

Refused’s last album in 1998 “The Shape of Punk to Come” was considered one of the best punk albums for the era. It’s kind of funny how sometimes creative minds come together to make something magical and then disappear, only to be discovered years later. That album now 19 years old, combined all the great elements of hardcore and explored new ideas, such as the use of jazz violins and catchy guitar riffs. “New Noise” is a great example of the direction Refused wanted to go with this album. The opening riff builds up the overall tonality of the song. When the singer belches out “Can I scream?,” towards the middle of the song, listener wants to just bang their head with excitement.

That new sound spawned other bands that wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for Refused pushing the envelope. This album was their response to how punk rock should sound like. Refused crafted their work with strong execution on their political standpoint, advising others to follow suit. An example of a band that is heavily influenced by Refused is let.live.  Their music continues on the notion that punk is not dead.

Refused broke up with no indication that they would ever reform, the strain that came with The Shape of Punk to come just exhausted the band to the point of frustration. In the later part of 2014, however, speculation hit the internet that the band was working to reunite. Rather than making music for another band, Refused decided to make an album out of the material they had already. In the month of June 2015, Refused did release their fourth studio album “Freedom” on Epitaph Records label.

Refused is currently on tour in the U.S. and Europe Spain, and France. They also will be joining Deftones in the summer for a U.S. tour.

Revised- May 17th, 2016 – punctuation and spelling errors