Refused – War Music (2019)

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Swedish punk rock band, Refused released a trailblazing album, in 1998’s The Shape of Punk to Come – their third album, and last until the reformed in 2012.  Theirs is a vicious brand of punk, with lyrical themes that are non-conformist and very leftist in nature.

On their second album since their reformation, War Music, the band don’t stray too far from the musical stylings that put them on the map in the first place.

The opening track Rev 001 looks at the financial gain of war – “when there’s blood on the streets, somebodies getting paid”, and with the confronting lyrical content comes a raw and energetic musical landscape.  It’s a brilliant opener.

Continuing on, Violent Reaction and I Wanna Watch the World Burn keep things moving, with the former being completely unhinged, and the latter being a little more tame.  Each track gets its point across nicely, and both hold significant portions of melody, regardless of the subject matter, or the abrasive nature elsewhere in the tracks.

Blood Red is the first single, and demonstrates the tightness of the band currently.  As the band attack income equality, their views are clearly evident.  Malfire exchanges fire and intensity, for a more accessible rock sound, and it works for the band.  The track is full of groove, and gets almost bouncy at times.  Very good stuff.

Turn the Cross brings the intensity back with a vengeance.  Super fast playing from the entire band, and a frantic vocal delivery are the high points of this number.

Damaged III has a lot in common with Rage Against the Machine.  Politically charged, musically catchy, and vocals that are spat at the listener.  This is the shape of punk right now, and I like it.

Death in Vannas is an anarchists anthem, as it speaks on being a child born of chaos out of your control.  Ironically enough, it’s one of the tamest tracks on offer, save for a couple of flourishes of anger and bitterness.

The Infamous Left is reminiscent of old school thrash metal, fast and furious, with a raw quality that suits the track perfectly.  In fact, that rawness is right throughout the record, and works hand in hand with the material, and the bands playing style.

Album closer, Economy of Death, is my favourite track on War Music.  There’s a bit of a thrash quality to this one as well, but theres also an unmistakeable swagger that is impossible to ignore.  Great stuff.

Frontman, Dennis Lyxzen, has screamed his way through the whole album, while the band deliver a distorted rock n roll background, and like a tornado, everything in War Musics wake has been affected.  Sure, the politically charged lyrical content won’t work for everybody, but the music rocks!

7/10

Shayne McGowan.

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