Just over a week ago it was the 15th anniversary of what I currently hold to be the greatest album of all time - The Shape of Punk to Come - and so I thought I'd talk about the band responsible for that album: Refused.
Refused were one of the most important (and certainly the most well known) bands in the Swedish hardcore punk scene and during their career from 1991 to 1998 they became one of the most influential punk bands in history.
In order: This Just Might Be... The Truth; Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent; The Shape of Punk to Come; This Album Contains Old Songs and Old Pictures Vol. 1 (Also Known as the EP Comp CD); This Album Contains Old Songs and Old Pictures Vol. 2 (Also Known as the Demo Comp CD); The New Noise Theology EP.
With their first album and first few EPs Refused started out playing what was pretty much typical hardcore in the scene at the time (mind you, they did it incredibly well). Their second album saw them exploring more complex post-hardcore before revolutionising punk in 1998 with their third album, The Shape of Punk to Come.
I love everything Refused have done, but it is this third and final album (the band broke up shortly after its completion) that has earned them their spot in music history, and with good reason.
With 15 years since its release, I think it is still completely unparalleled.
A very ambitious and forward-thinking record, it experimented a lot with what hardcore was and could be, with complex songwriting and seamless incorporation of many jazz and electronic elements (indeed, the album's title is a tip of the hat to Ornette Coleman's album The Shape of Jazz to Come).
It's a fantastically written and very unique album. Everything from little things to the big things, from the electronic interludes, to the jazz bridge on The Deadly Rhythm, to the fantastic violin intro to Tannhäuser / Derivè (which happens to be pretty much my favourite song ever) serves a purpose in crafting this masterpiece.
It's an album that is brutal and aggressive, yet delicate and sophisticated.
There's not much I can say about this album that hasn't already been said my many fans and critics. Pretty much everything about this record is perfect and everyone in the band is so good at what they do that it's ridiculous.
It's an album that has influenced countless artists, but none of them have come close to matching its greatness.
Of course it's not an album that's for everyone, but it's definitely the album for me.
However, an album this incredible took its toll on Refused's creative energy and the band broke up soon after, vowing to never play together again.
Fortunately, that was not the case and they reunited in 2012 for one tour to do justice to their last album. Following the tour Refused broke up once again, but stated that the possibility of their return remains.
I certainly hope that they do indeed return, as they are by far my favourite band.
...And that will be the end of my babbling for this first entry. I kinda wanted to talk more about their early work, but I don't really want to make these entries long, so maybe another time