Refused "The Shape of Punk To Come" Classic Review

Originally in The Oklahoma Daily on October 3rd, 2007.

In order for a record to be considered a classic, it usually has to stand the test of time, but some records make such an impact they can be considered a classic immediately. “The Shape of Punk To Come” by Refused is one of those records.

Released in October of 1998, “The Shape of Punk To Come” blends traditional hardcore with a wide array of influences, including jazz, techno and pop, along with highly political lyrics. When the record was first released, it went largely unnoticed. The mainstream music world was too focused on the growing nu-metal scene, and much of the underground hardcore scene dismissed the record for straying too far from the traditional hardcore formula.

As time passed, however, the album’s revolutionary sounds and massive influence became more and more apparent. Current bands like Blindside, Showbread and Norma Jean have all openly admitted to essentially being Refused rip-offs.

Every track on “The Shape of Punk To Come” is completely unique and brings something new to the table. From the free-form jazz of “The Deadly Rhythm” to the orchestral “Tannhäuser/Derive,” the band completely obliterated the boundaries of what hardcore music could be.

The most recognizable song on “The Shape of Punk To Come,” and the closest thing Refused ever had to a hit, is undoubtedly “New Noise.” The song’s quiet/loud dynamic is something that has been endlessly copied since its release.

The most interesting thing about “The Shape of Punk To Come” is how it eventually tore the band apart. In the middle of a tour following the album’s release, the band announced they were breaking up and cancelled the rest of tour. The band split at the top of their game.