There are those that can make a good case for the world actually being in the worst state this side of WWII it has ever been. We are used to lunatics in charge of far flung countries but when two of them are in charge of the US/UK you know things are messed up! We ignored the warnings 15 – 20 years ago and now we are trying to back pedal on the climate when we are over the tipping point so people are anxious and angry. Money, corporations and the church are more in control than ever and we are ignoring simple and clear signs that we need to actually do something or all the money in the world won’t mean shit when the whole place is a wasteland.
With all that said then, art does imitate life and what better band to reflect the world around us and channel it all into thought provoking, challenging and raging music? That’s right, the year is 2019, the whole place is fucked and Refused are suitably pissed off on War Music.
There is no mucking about here, ‘REV001’ calls for “One More Revolution” and “When there’s blood on the streets, somebody’s getting paid.” Dennis Lyxzen’s caustic scream has lost none of its vitriol and is in full swing from the off. This is a fairly typical Refused track as we now know them but a great way to hook you in and make you think you know what you’re in for. Letting you think this is going to be familiar and then not being at all is oh so very Refused. Through ‘Violent Reaction’s’ almost thrash-like off-kilter main riff, comes the message of “Level it all – restore.”
The rest of the ten tracks continue with excellent but fairly direct lyrical statements and ideas such as in ‘Economy of Death’ where we are told It’s “only a mushroom cloud away.” Pretty poignant and not very hard to join the dots, is it?
War Music is a lot more cohesive than the last record, 2015’s Freedom, in the way that it seems as if the band are much less self-aware and less worried about how it stacked up against legendary, genre busting and EXTREMELY influential, The Shape of Punk to Come. By having this approach this record is more like what people would have expected last time out on Freedom. There is so much happening but not all at once and for that it is a lot easier to digest over a few listens rather than a few dozens. Is there still some jazzy stuff going on? Is it still heavy? Is it still dynamic? Yes, there all those elements here but there are some new vibes going on. There are flourishes of almost gothic, 80’s sounding Post Punk ala Killing Joke at their most sinister in ‘I wanna watch the world burn’, which is unlike anything the band have done before. There is more use of Lyxzen’s singing voice than normal as well at the insistence of producer Martin Ehrencrona, which is another welcome element.
All forms of music and artistic expression have their place but there really isn’t enough bands that are willing to stick their necks on the line and actually scream for change. There are some that will comment and will perhaps cleverly address issues we all face but there aren’t many that have a clear agenda, a manifesto and the balls to say “this is fucking wrong and I am right!” What with Rage Against the Machine just announcing their reunion, how about a tour with Refused? Now that really could change the world.