Album Reviews

War Music
Refused War Music Punk Rock Theory
Wednesday, October 16, 2019 - 17:40
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- by Christophe Vanheygen

Were you as excited as I was when you read about Refused’s reunion back in 2012? Rightfully so … There’s hardly been a band as special and influential as the Swedish powerhouse in the last thirty-odd years. And I’d never imagined seeing them live.

Were you, however, also skeptical when Refused announced a “new album” a few years later? Well, again, rightfully so. Honestly, I never really got into 2015’s ‘Freedom’.

Good. Now that we have cleared the air, let’s fast forward to now: a time where ‘War Music’ is - simply put - a relevant album. Albeit an unsurprising one.

Now, hear me out before you accuse me of being a conservative, alt-right, biased and privileged white male. I am merely left and privileged and white. You see, Refused has always been a politically outspoken band. That has not changed. The band tackles issues like the refugee crisis and neo-conservatism … to name a few.

So, no surprises there. And really, that’s a good thing. The world is in dire need of smart people with a proper opinion and vision.

Musicwise, ‘War Music’ is equally unsurprising. The band pushed hardcore punk to insane extremes with ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’. A revolutionary record that made it one tough cookie to actually go beyond those limits.

My take? Refused doesn’t need to reinvent itself. And throughout the 10 tracks, you can discover many an element or recipe the band has used on either ‘Songs to fan the flames …’ or ‘The Shape of Punk …’.

The main difference is that every song is craftier, a little more polished and properly arranged. The maturity and professionalism of the band is on full display, whereas ‘The Shape ...’ felt more impulse-driven at times.

There is no ‘Rather Be Dead’ or ‘New Noise’ on ‘War Music’ though. But there is anger. And you get melody and subtlety. Just listen to ‘Death in Vännäs’ where the band even slightly reminds me of BoySetsFire.

Basically, ‘War Music’ feels more like a follow-up to ‘The Shape of Punk to Come’ than ‘Freedom’ did. Don’t expect to be blown away. Expect to be waken up.


Track listing:

  1. REV001
  2. Violent Reaction
  3. I Wanna Watch The World Burn
  4. Blood Red
  5. Malfire
  6. Turn The Cross
  7. Damaged III
  8. Death In Vännäs
  9. The Infamous Left
  10. Economy Of Death
Tom Dumarey
Tom Dumarey

Lacking the talent to actually play in a band, Tom decided he would write about bands instead. Turns out his writing skills are mediocre at best as well.