After a 17 year absence, Swedish hardcore punks Refused have returned with their fourth album titled Freedom. After breaking up initially in 1998, the band returned to the festival scene is 2012 playing a handful of dates, including one at Germany’s Rock Am Ring festival. In 2014, the band settled their differences, continuing to tour old material, eventually leading up to the release of Freedom.
The intro to album opener “Elektra” is extremely reminiscent of Refused’s older sound. This is most likely the reason why the song was chosen as the lead single from the album, to show Refused’s audiences that although they have been away for almost two whole decades, this is still the same Swedish foursome who reinvented hardcore with The Shape of Punk to Come. Lead singer Denis Lyxzen screams over hadcore guitars from Kristofer Steen building up to an even louder heavier chorus that fans of the band have been responding positively to since the song had its live debut in April.
“Francafrique” is slightly more PPP influenced than any other songs on the album, possibly due to the influence of Swedish pop producer Shellback. The song begins with children chanting “exterminate the brutes” and an almost funky sounding guitar that rings throughout the song. Lyzxen’s chanting of “Francafrique” and “exterminate the brutes” throughout the length of the track, left the song playing in my head for hours afterwards and surely that’s the mark of a good pop song? Although this track’s pop influence is evident, there’s still no doubt that the political lyrical content of the song has Refused written all over it.
“Dawkin’s Christ” starts with a female vocalist singing over a clean sounding guitar and drum line that sounds reminiscent of the slow build of Refused’s most known song “New Noise”. This slow build continues its momentum, adding distortion along with Lyxzen’s poetic screams of “the thought of love triggers lonely hearts, gladly reaching out just to be a part, so we live to serve, made it into an art“. The hard hitting riffs in the song and the satisfying heavy chorus makes it easy to imagine Refused fans embracing the song with open arms.
Freedom does not only signify a triumphant return for one of the most popular European punk bands of the last 25 years, it also makes you hope the next album doesn’t take nearly as long for the band to make. This is Refused releasing n studio album in the 21st century, something fans never thought they would see after the break up in 1999, let alone on an American label. However, any fans who doubted the band could come back sounding as hungry and passionate as ever, should be proved wrong with the triumphant sound of Freedom, featuring a Refused who sound as if they’d never been away.
Refused’s new album Freedom is out now via Epitaph Records, purchase it on iTunes here.
Words by Ellie Wiltshire