Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

This could very well be my laziest post ever. Well, maybe just slapping up funny pictures is lazier, I dunno, but this was pretty damn lazy. No effort at all, really. Why? I was too busy cranking this goddamn gem of an album!

The following is all well worth a read, and I could type all of this out, but why? Take it, Wiki!

This album marked a sharp and conscious departure from Refused’s earlier work. The philosophy of the album, expounded in the ample liner notes and encapsulated in the song “New Noise”, was that punk and hardcore music could not be anti-establishment by continuing to package revolutionary lyrics in sounds which had been increasingly co-opted into the mainstream. The sound of the record challenged existing punk sensibilities; it can be seen as “punk” at a fundamental level and includes experimental combinations of post-hardcore, post-punk, techno, and jazz sounds. The album reveals musical differences to pop punk bands such as Green Day and Blink-182, and also to even more traditional punk rock bands such as Bad Religion and Pennywise.

The album also includes “political interludes” between some songs. The use of more technological sounds or drum and bass music, particularly on The New Noise Theology E.P. which followed the album, is a tactic that various members of Refused have credited to the influence of Philadelphia punk band Ink & Dagger.

Samples and “borrowed” material

  • The song title Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull is an allusion to a line from Allen Ginsberg’s long poem “Howl”.
  • The Deadly Rhythm features a musical quotation of Bo Diddley’s 1959 R&B song I’m a Man.
  • The break in New Noise samples Col. Kurtz’s famous monologue from the 1979 Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now.
  • Tannhäuser / Derivè includes a reference to the theme The Augurs of Spring: Dances of the Young Girls from Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
  • The spoken text at the start of Protest Song ’68 comes from the opening of the Henry Miller novel Tropic of Cancer.
  • The album’s title The Shape of Punk to Come and the song of the same name are a reference to Ornette Coleman’s 1959 avant-garde jazz album The Shape of Jazz to Come.
  • The cover artwork is taken from the cover of Teenage Dance Session by Rye Coalition, which is of itself a copy of an earlier album cover.
  • The title of the song Refused are Fucking Dead is a reference to the Born Against song Born Against are Fucking Dead.

Or, try this:

Originally released in 1998, The Shape of Punk to Come “blurs the lines that separate punk, metal and hardcore, while peppering this brutal fusion with bits of techno percussion, jazzy rhythmic change-ups and long, complex song structures that support politically-charged messages,” (CMJ, 1998). Refused’s most critically acclaimed and final album exploded on the scene with the jaw-dropping hardcore anthem “New Noise,” which Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello once described as “one of the great rock jams of all time” (Filter, 2006), and helped change the game forever influencing a range of genres still to this day.

Or this!

It’s a ballsy move to claim you’re reinventing a musical genre that has been slogging along quite happily for more than two decades, but the Refused back up their chutzpah with an absolutely awe-inspiring and fearless slab of musical mayhem. The Shape of Punk to Come is nothing short of a punk-rock manifesto. Hardcore pathos is merely the foundation for their architecture: upon that they build an edifice of political expression with a take-no-prisoners approach to the search for artistic meaning and a musical liberation that includes elements of speedcore, free jazz, electronica, lo-fi, and absolutely no pop. Politics, art, and music merge into one monolithic whole. The disc starts with the spoken epigraph, “They told me that the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do,” followed by a swirling mess of noise that finally jells into the last undiscovered thunderous riff of “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull.” The song stutters, then speeds along, skips, pauses, then rolls. They follow that with the groovy Gang of Four metronomic punch of “Liberation Frequency.” When vocalist Dennis sings, “We want the airwaves back” in a sweet falsetto that belies his ability to deliver a screech not unlike a bull alligator clearing its throat, you believe this band isn’t going to gently rise up the Billboard charts; they’d rather storm the ramparts. Unfortunately, when the band writes a song called “The Refused Are Fuckin’ Dead,” they aren’t kidding around: the band broke up before the release of Shape. Let’s hope enough people hear this album to kick-start the revolution. –Tod Nelson

Well then!

All that’s left is my reaction to the album… That’s easy: HOT DAMN! I hear all sorts of other bands in this. One of my recent favourites, Dillinger Escape Plan, and old faves Rage Against The Machine, for sure. But nevermind all of that, just rock to the damn record. Holy crap, it’s loud, it hits hard, it’s experimental and fascinating, and I totally understand why folks drooled all over this one. Pure classic.


16 thoughts on “Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

    1. keepsmealive says:

      Agreed Geoff, though I cannot lie about my laziness. I mean, look at all those good details! If I tried writing that up as my own paragraphs, you guys would’ve known I wasn’t that knowledgeable and was just cribbing notes from somewhere anyway, so why not just drop it right in there and call it a day? Exactly!

      But heck yes, this album will rip the top off your head. Sooooo good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. SpeedySailor says:

        Absolutely loving it! His voice is something to get used to, but the instrumentals are fekin awesome, and the overall energy is just unstoppable. Loving New Noise and Elektra in particular.


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