Refused – Freedom


Artist

Album

Freedom

Label

Epitaph Records

Year

2015

For Fans Of

Refused (obviously) At The Drive-In, Letlive

Summary

Shut up and take my money!

Rating

95 / 100

As human beings, we all have a lot of questions and we all want the answers to those many questions. However, we seldom get the answers we seek, and so we go to our cold graves and the great beyond (whatever and wherever that may actually be) with lingering questions burdening our now ethereal passing souls.

Where am I going?

Did my life even matter?

Will I even be remembered?

Was my funeral service filled with friends and family?

Will my dog miss me when I’m gone?

Was the new Refused album any good?

Well, if you’re reading this then hey, good news buddy; you’re alive and the new Refused album is great. G-R-E-A-T! Fucking brilliant even, and yes that is the correct technical term.

Despite the 17-year gap in releases, it feels like the Swedish legends never left us. They’re still politically charged, still creating engaging art, still putting on great live shows, are still impeccable musicians, and they still bend a host of styles and sounds to their will across the album’s 10 tracks. That musical and artistically-sound freedom (good God, my Pretentiousness Metre is going off its nut) is just that; the freedom for Refused to be a band again, to record and release a new album, and it’s a liberty this reviewer is incredibly thankful for.

Now, another question you may have; “Is it as good as their now widely considered punk/hardcore classic, ‘The Shape Of Punk To Come’?”

No, not quite, but one has to remember that those songs have had a 17 year head start over these newbies. So, and we feel this goes without saying, give these songs the time to settle in, because once they do, it’s impossible to get this wonderfully textured record out from underneath your skin. Not hard, we mean impossible as in the way Lou Reed put it in Penn & Teller’s Smoke and Mirrors, it’s like “eating the sun” – just impossible to do. Why? Because this album is not only a grandiose comeback kick to the face, it’s arguably one of the better records of 2015. 

To the newest inductees of the Holy Church Of Refused (its totally a thing, shut up), this album will feel odd, weird; like something from a by-gone era. However, veterans of this blessed congregation should feel right at home with Refused’s new modern-day classic; a classic that adds to their legacy rather than detracting from it.

The guitar riffs and grooves are just as electrifying and exciting as they ever were, the drumming is just as tight and soul-filled as ever, and Dennis Lyxzén‘s vocals are not only stronger and bolder, but they now fill out the band’s sound that much more. Tracks like the energetic ‘Elektra’, the spine-tingling good ‘Dawkins Christ’, and ‘366’ (which has a very quintessential ‘Shape…’ sound to it) really show all of this off. There are also elements of live recordings, synth/electronica, brass sections and other instrumentation (chanting anyone?) that keep the album fresh and unpredictable, which was arguably one of the most notable parts of ‘Shape…’ and which helped to make it such a classic record.

Useless Europeans’, ‘Destroy The Man‘, and ‘War On The Palaces‘ are easily the most prime examples of this, shall we say ‘experimentation’, but there are subtle hints littered throughout each glorious song. Furthermore, the four-piece also loves to take their time with some songs, which really beefs up the album’s required level of involvement from the listener; this is not a record that you’ll “get” on the first go, oh no sir. Songs like the ever-building and guitar hook-laden ‘Servants of Death‘, or the anthemic standout ‘Françafrique’ (as in France’s unstable relationship with the former African colonies that it completely fucked with), and brooding, cacophonous ‘Thought Is Blood‘ embody this creative and interest garnering flare fully.

Now, a final question that may linger with your fading thoughts as you lay on your death bed: “Does this part of their career completely negate their rather introspective and eye-opening ‘Refused Are Fucking Dead’ DVD?” You know what? Yeah, it kind of does but NOWHERE near as much as some jaded, close-minded fans will try and lead you to believe, as ‘Freedom‘ laves their legacy and impact fully intact. So if you clear your schedule and devote the time needed for ‘Freedom’, you will be vastly rewarded with musical spoils by taken by one of the best bands in the world right now (hyperbole fully necessary).

Conclusion

Refused could have made an album that sounded exactly like ‘Shape…’ and it would have been equally loved and hated for the exact same reason – it’s the same as their last record. They could have tried to capture the underground nostalgia of their (somewhat turbulent) early days, but it’s at odds with where the band members are at now with their lives. They could have just lived off reunion tours and festival slots, but you know who they would be then? They’d be the fucking Sex Pistols, that’s who. So they’ve gone in the other direction and done the unexpected, again. Refused have once more become the wildcard group, challenged the perceptions of what their sound could be, and have released something that is both completely familiar and completely alien and run away with it like few others could.

Tracklisting

1. Elektra

2. Old Friends/New Wars

3. Dawkins Christ

4. Françafrique

5. Thought Is Blood

6. War On The Palaces

7. Destroy The Man

8. 366

9. Servants Of Death

10. Useless Europeans

Leave a Reply

You must be registered and logged in to comment on this post.