Legendary New York Hardcore band Sick Of It All are celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2016. Not ones to take a victory lap, they have announced a new album, When The Smoke Clears, releasing on November 4th from Century Media Records.Continue reading →
The hotly contested reunion or comeback album. Purists will bitch and list off 40 million reasons why a band should never re-enter the studio after calling it quits. They’ll tarnish their legacy. They can never re-achieve past glories. They’re too old. They’re not the same band anymore.
The list never ends.
And in a way, those points have some merits. After all it has been 17 years since Refused put out the revolutionary The Shape of Punk to Come. A recording that is universally considered classic and difficult to categorize. And shortly after the release of that record, the band imploded capped it off with a fiery press release stating “Refused are Fucking Dead.”
As new album Freedom (Epitaph) clearly points out, they were not fucking dead. After a series of reunion shows in 2012 and 2014, frontman Dennis Lyxzen, guitarist Kristofer Steen, drummer David Sandstrom and bassist Magnus Flagge still had some of that future punk left in them. Best of all, is that much like Carcass in 2013 and At the Gates last year, Refused sound as good and confident as they did in their 90s heyday.
Lead single ‘Elektra’ probably states it best: “Time has come, no escape.” It indeed is time for Refused’s left-of-center brand of noise. America at least, seems to be in an odd state of regression. We count corporations as people and have segments of the population that see the Confederate flag as “heritage”, and view same-sex marriage as a threat to their religious freedom. That’s without counting those denying global warming or the anti-vaccination movement.
And to show their discontent with the state of affairs, Refused keep the vitriol and attitude going in other punk scorchers like ‘Dawkins Christ’ and ‘Thought is Blood.’ And when they choose to turn down the assault it’s with tracks like ‘Old Friends/New War’ that while not as a raucous still keep a sharp edge as Lyxzen finds that “there’s no other choice but to create some noise and sharpen up my mind.” And we’re glad that you’re up to your old tricks.
Also, much like in The Shape of Punk to Come, these Swedes find room for eccentricity in Freedom. In the liner notes you’ll notice that both ‘Elektra’ and ‘366’ were produced by Shellback, the hitmaker known for his work with Adele and Taylor Swift. Once again proving that they are the most punk by following their muse rather than convention.
We need more records like Freedom. We need them because they remind us that certain genres are supposed to be the dangerous ones. I’m disgusted by the fact that the punk bands that prevail today happen to fall under the abomination known as “Pop-Punk.” A musical oxymoron whose practitioners are perfectly content to play arenas and extol the virtues of eating pizza and wearing fitted hats.
It’s nice to see that some are still choosing to live dangerously.
Turbonegro came out on fire as part of the dual Scandinavian rockers bill, as they threw down the gauntlet early and never looked back. The Norwegian punk rockers, now led by British frontman Tony Sylvester (aka Duke of Nothing), kept the crowd on its feet and the energy up high with his one liners in between songs referencing Los Angeles as ‘evil” (“City of Satan”) and drug innuendos referencing neighboring city of Fullerton and finding Social Distortion mainman Mike Ness. But the highlights of their set list included their rendition of the Dire Straits classic “Money for Nothing” along with the set closer “I Got Erection,” with the crowd chanting along with every word.
Photo Credit: Rei Nishimoto
Photo Credit: Rei Nishimoto
Swedish veteran hardcore punkers Refused managed to rile up the sold out venue with their angst driven sound and kept the energy on high all throughout their set. Frontman Dennis Lyxzen led the assault with his anger driven stylings, while the crowd eagerly screamed along word for word, as if their lives depended on what he was saying. Beginning with “Elektra,” off of their forthcoming album Freedom, and then diving head into “The Shape of Punk to Come” and “The Refused Party Program,” (off of The Shape of Punk to Come) as well other long time favorites triggered the crowd to respond with the crowd jumping along with the band and crowdsurfers tossed around alongside the occasional appearance by Lyxzen throughout the evening in the pit.
Refused. Photo Credit: Rei Nishimoto
While this is Refused’s official return to the music scene after a couple of brief reunion runs and with a new album about to drop, they showed that they have hardly lost a step. While longtime fans may debate over the validity over whether their new material stands up to their past, tonight’s show hardly shows any signs of them missing a step. If Swedish punk were missing any of their heroes, Refused is definitely up for the challenge to fill the void. Plus one thing is for sure – unlike their song, Refused are anything but dead.
Dennis Lyxzen of Refused. Photo Credit: Rei Nishimoto
Refused. Photo Credit: Rei Nishimoto
Elektra The Shape of Punk to Come The Refused Party Program Rather Be Dead Summerholidays vs. Punkroutine Françafrique The Deadly Rhythm Dawkins Christ Coup d’état Hook, Line and Sinker Refused Are Fucking Dead Liberation Frequency Tannhäuser / Derivè
Encore: New Noise Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull
A lot of changes are apparent within the Refused camp moving into the release of their first new album since 1998 titled Freedom, out June 30, 2015 via Epitaph Records. They fired longtime guitarist Jon Brännström and have been spotted performing with Mattias Bärjed of The Soundtrack Of Our Lives fame on guitars. No word on whether he is just filling in live or has joined as a full member.
In a recent interview, Refused vocalist Dennis Lyxzén spoke about recording a new album, and more.
On if he thought the band would ever record a new album:
“No. Well. . . for the last two years, since it has been happening, yes. But before that, a definite no. When we got back together in 2012 I was very confident that that was gonna be it. “We’re gonna do 10 shows,” you know? But then we wound up doing 82, and somewhere down the line we ended up talking about creating new music together. But before that it was pretty unthinkable that this would ever happen. But I think that was partly a matter of history, and sort of the legacy of what Refused was. A lot of people think, “Oh, those guys, their last record was The Shape of Punk to Come, they can never fuck with that.” So it’s very unexpected to people that we decided to actually fuck with that.”
On if had been wanting a Refused reunion himself:
“Before the reunion I had no desire whatsoever to revisit Refused music at all. I was done. And the reunion was just going to be this one-off kind of thing. But what happened was, Kris [guitarist Kristofer Steen] and David [drummer David Sandström] and Magnus [bassist Magnus Flagge], they actually had a band – I think they started playing together in 2010 – and they were doing this weird instrumental avant-garde metal music.
And while we were doing the reunion thing, Kris once asked me, “Do you want to sing on one of these songs we’re writing?” And I said, “Yeah, I can do that.” And then Kris and David started talking about, “Maybe these songs we’re writing could be Refused songs. . . ” So at some point they asked me if I would be into the idea of creating new Refused music. And my initial reaction was, “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” Then they showed me some music and I said, “Yes, this is a good idea!”
On the bands future:
“Well, we initially set out just to do 10 shows. But then we decided we were going to continue, and we became a band. And I think that’s a big difference. At this point Refused is not on a reunion tour. We are a band – a contemporary band that is putting out a record. And it’s not nostalgia or a throwback. Refused 2015 is just Refused. So that’s our future. And it’s gonna be intense, but not as intense as it was in the Nineties, because we’ll have the time and the leverage to do other things we want to do.
I mean, a couple people in the band have kids and families. I played 110 shows last year with my other band [INVSN], so that’s something I’m still gonna do. Kris is an opera director. David just finished up a play in Stockholm. So there will be other things happening around us at all times. But our idea is tour this record for at least two years, and then we’ll see if a new record comes out of that or if it’s time for another break. But really, who knows? I mean, Freedom isn’t even out yet. Maybe this record comes out and people say, “Fuck these guys!” Then I guess we’ll just travel around in a van again [laughs]. Either way, I can say that the future of Refused, it’s a bright one.”