8/10

Refused are Fucking Dead! Well, not anymore! After the groundbreaking release of 1998’s “The Shape of Punk to Come”, Umeå’s hardcore legends Refused decided to disband while at the top of their carreer. The band’s charismatic frontman Dennis Lyxzén went on to front acts like The (International) Noise Conspiracy, AC4 (with Refused drummer David Sandström) and The Lost Patrol, which turned into the excellent band Invasionen that is now known as INVSN.

Well, Refused eventually decided that they’d also rather be alive and thus re-united as a touring act in 2012. While they initially stated that their reunion was only temporary, a new studio album followed in 2015. “War Music” is the follow-up to “Freedom” and their fifth studio album in total.

 

This summer it was announced that Refused will provide original music for the fictitious band Samurai (whose vocalist will be interpreted by Keanu Reeves) in the upcoming video game “Cyberpunk 2077”. Lyxzén’s vocals can be heard on the songs “Chippin’ In” and “Never Fade Away” that are now available online. Neither of these excellent tracks are included on “War Music”, however. What we get during the brief 35 minutes of “War Music” are ten aggressive tracks with plenty of vocal hooks, heavy riffs, interesting rhythms and politically charged lyrics.

Economy of death dictates the division of east and west.
Economy of death restricts all terror to them and us.
Economy of death determines the narrative it needs.
Economy of death ensures you remain compliant sheep.

Lyxzén and Sandström are again joined by guitarist Kristofer Steen (who left Abhinanda to join in 1994, in time for the EP “Everlasting” and sophomore album “Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent”) and bass player Magnus Flagge, formerly “Björklund” and a member of Refused during 1992-95. Refused went through 13(!) bass players during their initial run but Magnus has still managed to contribute to every single studio album.

 

“Rev 001”, “Blood Red” and “Economy of Death” were all presented as singles ahead of the album release. These are excellent tracks but so is the brilliantly titled “Death In Vännäs” (Vännäs being a small town in northern Sweden that  is pronounced like “Venice”, alluding to Thomas Mann), the catchy “Violent Reaction” , “The Infamous Left” and “Malfire”, a song about refugees and the tragic rise of fascism and Nazism across Europe.

 

Refused - War Music
Refused – War Music

Artist: Refused
Title: War Music
Label: Spinefarm/Search and Destroy Records
Date of release: 2019-10-18
Rating: 8/10
Standout track: Death In Vännäs

To each according to need, from each according to ability. Blood red! Blood red until I’m fucking dead!