on December 20, 2002
Could this be the greatest album ever made? I believe if it isn't it must come close. Unlike most albums, where it seems the band involved is trying to create a complete album around two or three decent songs "the shape of punk to come" is mind-blowingly awesome from start to finish. Each song is as powerful as the last one. Songs like "New noise", "Tannhauser/derive" and "Liberation frequency" are unlike anything anyone has heard before. Completely breaking the traditions and rules of punk and any other genre for that matter, "the shape of punk to come" steps foot into completely unchartered territory. I mean a ten minute punk song with ochestral violin playing throughout?
Refused disbanded on the eve of this album's release. And I for one think it was possibly a smart move. "The shape of punk to come" is a once in a lifetime album. The music cycle usually goes like this:
1. band release a few e.p.'s maybe a full album or two
2. band releases awesome career high cd
3. band releases follow up cd, usually not as good, but more mainstream, band becomes famous
4. band spends rest of life in mainstream releasing mediocre albums becomes hated by their original fans
If you don't believe me just look at bands like Korn, 311, blink 182 and Limp bizkit. By stopping after "the shape of punk to come" Refused ensured that they would never become a popular, mainstream band. More importantly they in effect 'froze time' in our minds. What i mean by this is that when we think of refused in 20 year's time, we will think back to our last memory of them (circa this album's release) which is subsequently their greatest moment. Whereas when we think of Korn we'll think back to their last woefully mainstream albums rather than the greatness of their self titled debut. I believe this is why Kurt Cobain and Nirvana are considered so great. Cobain killed himself at the peak of his popularity and greatness, and that greatness is how we will all remember him. Had he not killed himself I am sure he would have suffered an Elvis like demise.
Some speculate that Refused intended to split before they made the album, using the song "Refused are f*cking dead" as evidence. If this is true it would explain the bizare experimentation on this album compared to their previous relatively conventional hardcore offerings. Refused had nothing to lose. Bands usually feel the need to obey the rules of their genre ie, punk songs cannot go for more than 3 minutes etc. Refused break all the rules and I think, for me, is what makes this album so great. The fact that Refused are a Swedish band also is significant for me, as almost every other European band tries to mimmick it's American counterparts. Refused did not.
The shape of punk to come is one of the best if not the best album of our times. It blends punk, metal, electronica and various other styles. If you haven't heard it yet, nows a good time to do something about it.
on February 25, 2004
What can I say that hasn't already been said. I've owned a LOT of cd's and listened to a LOT of music, yet somehow listening to this album makes me feel like I've never listened to music before. There a lot of 5 star reviews just thrown around on amazon, but this truly deserves it. How can so many styles work so perfectly together? Techno on a punk cd? And how can a band portray THIS much emotion from a plastic disk? It's mind boggling. Dennis has more energy than anyone I can think of, and the band packs a punch to match. Like my header says, you will not understand until you listen - and make sure it's loud. It makes me gag when I hear people go goo-goo ga-ga over Blink 182, Bad Charlotte, and the like. It's a shame these people buy whatever's shoved down they're throats, even more a shame that they don't REALIZE they like it because it's shoved down their throats. So it's your choice, listen the latest trendy band and become numb (I think that's such an appropriate name for a Linkin Park song), or listen to this album and realize what music really is!
on July 28, 2003
Now THIS is punk! I know, I know, REAL punk, as defined by the Ramones, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, etc., has been "dead" for quite some time now, and all these pathetic groups that think they're rebels just because they dye their hair weird colors are driving rusty nails into punk's coffin, however...
...REAL punk is truly about being rebellious from the norm. REAL punk bands aren't that well-known (at least at the time--so many people in the '70's had a clue who the Ramones were at first). REAL punk is often politically outspoken.
And here, Refused have--or rather, HAD--all these traits. Led by Dennis Lyxzen (now fronting the [International] Noise Conspiracy), Refused wrote songs about anything from how history books lie (their famous song, "Burn It"), to how they themselves were making a difference in the music world. Just...look at some lyrics online. You'll see what I mean.
Now, for their absolute musical talents.
The subtitle to this CD is "A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts." This is so simply the truth. Here we have songs ranging from (actually talented) straight-out hardcore ("New Noise," one of my favorites), jazz-influenced ("Liberation Frequency" and "The Deadly Rhythm"-on this latter one, just listen to the bridge of the song! Pure jazz!), and often bordering on...techno (like on the latter half of the first track, "Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull," as well as "Brutist Pome #5").
Dennis Lyxzen has quite a range of vocals in his voice; from unbelievably hardcore screams that put all the new "screamo" bands to pure shame, to spoken-word, to falsetto-pitched melodies. This guy is very talented. Again, for more, check out some of his work with the (International) Noise Conspiracy.
Kristofer Steen and Jon Brannstrom: two guitarists that, while they obviously know quite a few things on playing the strings, don't overdo it or rub it in your face. They can be heavy, they can be soft, they play acoustic, electric, whatever!
Magnus Bjorklund, a very talented bassist. He helps pull in some more of the jazzier parts, especially on said bridge of "The Deadly Rhythm," where he plays a standing bass.
...and then there's David Sandstrom, drummer extraordinaire. He can do it all: jazzy, quieter parts; loud, snare-heavy abominations of noise. He's so damn fast, he's...UGH! LISTEN TO THIS MAN PLAY!
Sadly, Refused broke up in 1999, less than a year after completing this album, which to me is their absolute magnum opus. Raid Amazon and your local used stores for this band's music! Other notable albums to get include EVERLASTING, SONGS TO FAN THE FLAMES OF DISCONTENT, and the EP released in conjunction with this album, the NEW NOISE E.P.
CAN I SCREAM!!?
on July 13, 2003
Refused is so groundbreaking that it has been a full five years since the release of this album and nothing has come close yet. "We express ourselves in loud and fashionable ways." Hell they do, this is the single most bone jarring punk album I have ever heard. I'll be the first to admit, I listen to some pretty generic music sometimes because of a great hook or a radio single. With that said though, I feel pleasured to be able to experience something this awesome any time I like, being a proud owner of this album. The musicianship is all over the place as well as off the charts. That's so refreshing to know that a band just doesn't touch on a few different ideas but throws them full force into a crazy idea that melds hardcore riffs with punk melodies and throws in enough different instruments to make an entire concert band along the way. A more powerful message has not emerged lately either. Refused is so blunt and yet so creative about their message that it is so much more irresistible. The lead track(s) "Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull" powers a rhythm against capitalism and then shifts to chanting "Let's take the first bus out of here." It's a truly powerful way to begin the album, there is plenty of loud music, and of course what makes the album so interesting, techno beats and a great tune. The distortion turns to flashing guitars and back to the same form in which it came, all so captivating during the piece. It even dissolves into the next track, my favorite song on the album, "Liberation Frequency". The track is a bit more simplistic than the other tracks, but it rocks oh so hard. The gentle verses build to a scorching chorus that pounds while it catches you. A stunning track, it gets you with melody and the lyrics. Being a fan of this band, you have to agree with their message about mainstream. "What frequency are you getting? Is it noise or sweet sweet music?" Another ingenious track follows "Liberation Frequency" (although not directly following, it picks up where "Liberation Frequency" leaves off). Certainly not as heavy as the preceding tracks and probably the only one which features an actual melody, "Summerholiday vs. Punkroutine" is one of my favorites. It mimics nothing I have heard from a punk band, ever.
An interesting interlude following the first four tracks. Well placed, this serves to slice the album down the middle, since so much has already been thrown at you. Refused has a funny way of surprising you though. They punch you in the face a minute into the only single "New Noise". A dramatic buildup leads to, a little bit of distortion. But as soon as you think there is a calm, in comes the scream of "Can I scream?" (How very appropriate). The song alternates between the heavy, screeching chorus and the laid back verses. At the climax, the rants go "We dance to all the wrong songs, We enjoy all the wrong moves". A powerful message about making your own "noise" as they would call it, this track is infectious on so many levels. The absolutely ferocious ending lends yet another star to this intriguing piece. I can actually say, there is one track on the album that does not full satisfy me. The repetitive and relentless "Refused Party Progamme" is a step for the politics of the band, but not necessarily a musical necessity. Thankfully, however, that this bears no negativity on my mind, for the next few tracks following make up for it, and really make it at least fit in the puzzle of this album. "Protest Song '68" goes on the grounds of the third track, "Deadly Rhythm". Both are very catchy in their own right, and as the first track preaches about the evils of standardized labor, the second fills in the gap about going in new directions, singing a new song, almost literally. Both go about their messages in an in-your-face fashion which intensifies both of them. The truly oddly, and probably as a foreshadowing, titled "Refused are [*] Dead" proceeds like any of the other tracks for a while, alternating verses and chorus, screaming along the way, and a driving guitar riff. However, this track ends with the most melodic notes shown on the entire album. The lyric, as I introduced at the beginning of the review, is a truly marvelous expression, and is captured so well in this song. Following that is another seed of revolution, "The Shape of Punk to Come".
There seems to be yet another shift though. The eerie violin opening of the eleventh track, Tannhäuser/Derivè sets the stage for an unexpected thrash that lasts through the middle of the song. Even an entire manifesto found its way onto the pages of the CD booklet. There is a lot to say about such a deep and driving album. The finale though, is simple. A few strums on the guitar, and a few notes from Dennis. It is acoustic, yes, and perhaps aptly so. The rage of the album really does boil down to what the band has to say, and not the ferocity of the drums, or the screeching guitars really say what the band has to say. This album is entirely unique and will never be doubled like many of today's albums, and sadly, many that I own. But being unique is a difficult thing to do, and Refused does it wonderfully. So I urge the purchase of this brilliant album, and although it turned out that it does not predict the shape of punk to come it still is the pillar of modern hardcore. What this band did with one swipe of the guitar and one scream from the singer outlasts many bands career accomplishments. The word may never get out, but to the lucky few, this is what music is all about.
on May 7, 2003
I decided to download "The Shape Of Punk To Come" completely on a whim, based solely on the rave reviews I saw on this site. To put it mildly, my decision was vindicated. "The Shape Of Punk To Come" is one of those rare albums that both blow you away upon first listen and then get better with time. It's loosely classifiable as punk, but you certainaly don't need to be a punk fan to enjoy it. Nirvana, schmirvana: Kurt Cobain wouldn't have put out an album this diverse and genre-bending if he had lived to be a million.
I can't even put into words how powerful this album is, how much visceral impact it contains, how much utter steamrolling FORCE it hits you with. Dennis Lyxzen's vocals are often pure venom, the guitars pummel you relentlessly, and David Sandstrom's drumming hits harder than a brick dropped from the top of the Empire State Building. Listening to this album, it's obvious how much energy and conviction was put into each and every song. This is music without rules, without reservations, and without apology. I'd love to play it for the 98-pound, Good Charlotte T-shirt-wearing "punks" I see at the mall just to see the looks on their faces.
What's even more important than anything I've said above, though, is that Refused were intelligent and methodical about their sonic destruction. As its title suggests, "The Shape Of Punk To Come" is a punk album in the truest sense of the word: it's harsh, it's abrasive, and it's rooted in a deep sense of antagonism toward the mainstream. While all that's nice, it doesn't make for a classic album on its own. Fortunately, there's a lot more to "The Shape Of Punk To Come" than stereotypical three-chord, two-minute testosterone fests. Thanks to a level of creativity and musicianship high for any genre but stunning for punk, Refused showed a keen aptitude for composing memorable and interesting songs.
While suffering from no shortage of punkish aggression, this album is also filled to the brim with intense metallic heaviness, and Refused also threw in a few other genres just for good measure. Songs like "Worms Of The Sense/Faculties Of The Skull," "Protest Song '68," and "Refused Are F***in Dead" boast jarring, angular structures that could make a guy with no neck bang his head, but that's not all. The album is filled with melodic, ambient, and even jazzy interludes, providing a nice contrast from the mayhem that's often on display. "Liberation Frequency," my personal favorite, starts out with Dennis's subdued mantra of "We Want The Airwaves Back," and then a barrage of paralyzing shrieks and piercing guitar noise comes out of nowhere. The resulting dynamic is so dramatic you may well need a neck brace after hearing it for the first time. In a strangely fitting move, the band decided to close out the album with an acoustic song, the oddly-titled "The Apollo Programme Was A Hoax." After the insane roller coaster ride preceding it, I kind of like hearing a calmer piece that ends everything on a mellow note.
Listening to these guys, I can't help but think about how tragic it is that they broke up so early, not to mention how tragic it is that I just discovered them about three months ago. Unfortunately bands like Refused are too good to be on the radio, but this is what punk should be. No, scratch that, this is what MUSIC should be: inventive, challenging, uncompromising, and unconcerned with the opinions of the masses. The loss of a band like Refused truly is a loss for music.
on February 10, 2003
There are bands that are good and then there are bands that are great. Refused is one of the greats. This was released in 1998 and still feels fresh and innovative and will for years to come. This picks up where the Refused last cd "The songs to fan the flames of discontent" left off, on that release they were combining rock and roll guitar riffs into metal/harcore with overtly punk lyrics. "The shape of punk to come" continues this style adding and expanding to even more genres of music. Electronics and techno-ish beats pulsating through and in between the songs and even a stand up bass in the "deadly rythm". This isn't where the genius ends the lyrics are orginal and informative, the vocals are insane ranging from soulful mod rock singing to screaming in a great way that isn't awful like thrice, and the last and least important thing is the refused had style. There fashion sense was amazing. Great haircuts too. If you're just getting into hardcore or looking for something fresh you should own this record. It could change everything. I own the cd and the vinyl. OWN IT!
on January 7, 2003
This album is from a Swedish quartet working in the post-Fugazi, post-hardcore tradition. What originally was a botched punk attempt of Phil Ochs' idea of a band that would be the perfect symbiosis of Elvis Presley and Che Guevara, gave birth to the mighty Refused. And the world is a better place for it - for their timely arrival and courageous departure at their prime.
What makes Refused's The Shape Of Punk To Come - their swan song album - stand out from any other similar group or record is the full-on experimentation that's pushed to the forefront of the mix. This is music for a revolution, though not just in word but in sonic deed as well, using revolutionary musical methods, various rebel styles, and world-turning passion. Be quaked or be left behind - either way your ears will be ringing with blessing.
Not only does it have a top-notch collection of absolutely ripping, loud and angry anarcho-punk anthems - that are both thickly produced and raw to the hilt - it also has some breath-takingly short transition pieces in between songs, that provide a non-stop flow to the album, pushing it beyond any demarcated pale. You'll find spoken word-rants against style over substance or presenting capitalism as organized crime, sudden eruptions of someone turning a static-filled radio dial looking for the "Liberation Frequency," excerpts of electronic drum 'n' bass, glorious architectonic columns of feedback, tapes of faux roaring applause, and even accordions, melodica, and upright bass performances. And the CD packaging is inundated with manifestos, challenges, and odd insights - calling to mind the way some early punk albums had elaborate inserts a person could spend hours perusing.
So, in short, this album lives up to its title and should be welcome in any serious punk collection, particularly any of the landmark albums that have advanced the genre. But now that Refused have disbanded at the peak of their powers, I hope many other bands with the punk spirit will carry the torch of exploration that The Shape Of Punk To Come lit. And set the world on fire with it. . . .
on July 12, 2002
Contrary to "modern" airwaves, PUNK is an attitude and not a style. That said, this CD is great not just because the music SCREAMS and the production is BEYOND BELIEF but because it revives the PUNK ethos in EVERYTHING it does. Tear it down, build back up again, tear it down again, always full on. Everything, all the time. REFUSE to accept today as good enough.
REFUSED now rank among the great PUNK BANDS like DEAD KENNEDYS and FEAR for their ability to incorporate the punk ethos into every aspect of their MUSIC. If you think PUNK is about pink mohawks, leather and a music scene then REFUSED is your SALVATION.
Fortunately, no one can get away with this forever, and true to their PUNK ethos, REFUSED split soon after the release of this disc. As a WISE MAN once said, "it's better to burn out than to fade away." However, some of it went on to become INTERNATIONAL NOISE CONSPIRACY.
The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombation In 12 Bursts
is the testiment to REFUSED's super nova.
on June 22, 2002
"They told me the classics never go out of style, but they do..." And with that "The Shape of Punk to Come" begins and Refused totally rewrites the history of punk rock-and music in general. Refused takes a few lyrical and musical cues from the early nineties hardcore band Born Against, then brings everything up to a whole new level, deftly combining punk with metal, techno, and even jazz. No punk band has ever explored the places Refused goes with standout tracks like "The Deadly Rythm," "Refused are F***ing Dead," and of course, the immortal "New Noise". Even at it's most experimental and subdued, this album is an envigorating listen.
Sure, plenty of other punk bands talk about revolution, but only Refused seems willing to create truly revolutionary music to back up their radical anti-captialist views. In a few years "The Shape of Punk to Come" will become akin to Minor Threat's "Complete Discography"- a timeless classic and prerequisite listening for anyone seriously into underground music.
on March 12, 2002
I liked their first cd (songs to fan the flames of discontent), but I hysterically love this cd. When I first heard it I wasn't sure I liked it too much...until about 5 seconds passed. This cd is as revolutionary as the sex pistols were back in thier time...but unfortuanatly the group broke up. Some of them are still around in the International Noise Conspiracy, but thats another story.
This group can somehow mix all sorts of music and not stray awsay from either the album's central theme or the ideas they are passing on. The drums and bass are outstanding, the guitar is soft at someparts than hard as a brick in the face at other times. These guys are genius.
Anyhow, the singer is just incredible. His voice pumps you up and produces a feeling of adrenaline in your blood. He makes the listener want to jump up and cry out about the wrong in the world. Yes, this cd has a political theme, and I wasn't a believer in anarchy or marxism at all until I discovered this band.(as I didn't really understand it and thought I knew everything from my economics class...like most people)
Why would a band change my outlook on life? Probably because they have a feel unlike any other and know what they believe. They have seen truth and scream it in their music. Not with just words, but the ACTUAL MUSIC gives the listener a feel of what they believe. And they believe in changing the world. The old punk rock is now associated with corporaions and radio, its time for a new sound. It is the shape of punk to come.