Refused – War Music (Album Review)

Refused – War Music
Released: 18th October 2019

Line Up:

Dennis Lyxzën // vocals
David Sandström // drums
Kristofer Steen // guitar
Mangus Flagge // bass
Matthias Bärjed // guitar

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After proclaiming “Refused are Fucking Dead” back in 1998, it surprised many when Refused not only reunited to tour together, but then released Freedom in 2015. While many die-hard fans were shocked by the change in direction, expecting a The Shape of Punk To Come Part 2, Freedom was the band re-establishing who they were and what they were about, to quote frontman Dennis Lyzxën it was about finding “the essence of Refused.” Four years later Refused are back with War Music, an album that both moves the band forward while paying homage to their seminal, genre defining album.

A haunting female vocal introduces the blistering opening track ‘REV001’, it’s heavy, political, with a great guitar riff and Lyzxën’s powerful vocals. An excellent start to an album, clearly establishing what the audience should come to expect. With the sound of an old school radio changing channels, ‘Violent Reaction’ starts off slower, before the music really kicks in during the chorus, showing off the talents of guitarists Kristofer Steen, Matthias Bärjed and drummer David Sandström.

‘I Wanna Watch the World Burn’ ideologies regarding the state of the world and how we need to reset our lives, clearly comes through with Lyxzën’s soaring harmonies, whilst the harder, heavier elements of Refused are filtered throughout the song. First single ‘Blood Red’ starts with the whispering of “I’ll remain”, before the anger and edge of Lyxzën’s screams matches the tone of the instruments. One of the more chaotic songs on the album in terms of differing sounds, including the guitar riff and layering of vocals, ‘Blood Red’ allows for an audience in a live setting to chant along “blood red till I’m fucking dead.”

The guitar twang that introduces ‘Malfire’ creates a Middle Eastern feel, before the other musicians come in, with Lyxzën’s beautiful vocals transitioning to the rebelliousness we expect from Refused, with its fuzzy, precise guitar work, the song builds excellently and is an instantly catchy and memorable addition to the album. Hard-core drumming and a heavy metal guitar riff sitting next to one another in ‘Turn The Cross’ create a fractious and disorderly tone, perfect for Refused’s themes of rebellion and revolution. ‘Damaged II’, a more cohesive song in its structure compared to ‘Turn The Cross’, packs a punch, with its vigorous energy. ‘Death in Vännäs’ alternates between hard rock and 70’s rock and roll, with a commanding and predominant guitar riff.

‘The Infamous Left’ heavy influences are front and centre, with its rolling drums and edgy vocals leading to a hypnotic outro. War Music finishes with ‘Economy of Death’, a metal song that one can’t help to headbang to; its relentless, driving and metal as, with a brief sojourn half way through the song into calmer and quieter territory, which ends as soon as it begins.

It’s 20 years since Refused’s most popular release, and those 20 years have allowed the band to mature and become more focused in their sounds, without losing any of the edge, passion and anarchy of the past. War Music is a soundtrack to a revolution, which in this day and age is needed. Get on it!

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Refused- War Music tracklisting:

  1. REV001
  2. Violent Reaction
  3. I Wanna Watch The World Burn
  4. Blood Red
  5. Malfire
  6. Turn the Cross
  7. Damaged II
  8. Death in Vännäs
  9. The Infamous Left
  10. Economy of Death

Rating: 9/10
War Music is out October 18th via Spinefarm Records. Preorder here
Review by Carys Hurcom @CarysWos

Revisit our interview with frontman Dennis Lyxzén right here

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