When The Shape of Punk to Come came out in 1998 it was a daring new sound for hardcore, a blast of energy that messed with genre conventions and took things to a new level for angry guitar rock.
Following a 15-year hiatus, their long awaited follow up, Freedom (2015), didn’t quite deliver on that same energy. There were new sounds and experiments but something as missing. War Music however, sees Refused toning down the experimentation, but bringing that vital energy back into the mix.
Frontman Dennis Lyxzén has said War Music is an album that would “make more sense” for fans of The Shape of Punk to Come and he isn’t wrong. The anger is once again palpable and the album has an explosive quality that Refused proudly wore on their sleeves back in the day. A little less daring in some ways with slick production taking a bit of the edge off, but the grooves are there and Lyxzén tackles some great anti-capitalist themes.
While War Music isn’t as genre-defying, it’s still nice to see a band quoting Marx and screaming “blood red until I’m fucking dead” like they mean it.