Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

The Shape Of Punk To Come

Released 1998 on Burning Heart/Epitaph Records
Reviewed by Michael-Kim, 02/07/2002ce

This album is from a Swedish quartet working in the post-Fugazi, post-hardcore tradition. What originally was a botched punk attempt of Phil Ochs' idea of a band that would be the perfect symbiosis of Elvis Presley and Che Guevara, gave birth to the mighty Refused. And the world is a better place for it -- for their timely arrival and courageous departure at their prime.

What makes Refused's The Shape Of Punk To Come -- their swan song album -- stand out from any other similar group or record is the full-on experimentation that's pushed to the forefront of the mix. This is music for a revolution, though not just in word but in sonic deed as well, using revolutionary musical methods, various rebel styles, and world-turning passion. Be quaked or be left behind -- either way your ears will be ringing with blessing.

Not only does it have a top-notch collection of absolutely ripping, loud and angry anarcho-punk anthems -- that are thickly produced and raw to the hilt -- it also has some breath-takingly short transition pieces in between songs, that provide a non-stop flow to the album, pushing it beyond any demarcated pale. You'll find spoken word-rants against style over substance or presenting capitalism as organized crime, sudden eruptions of someone turning a static-filled radio dial looking for the "Liberation Frequency," excerpts of electronic drum 'n' bass, glorious architectonic columns of feedback, tapes of faux roaring applause, and even accordions, melodica, and upright bass performances. And the CD packaging is inundated with manifestos, challenges, and odd insights -- calling to mind the way some early punk albums had elaborate inserts a person could spend hours perusing.

So, in short, this album lives up to its title and should be welcome in any serious punk collection, particularly any of the landmark albums that have advanced the genre. But now that Refused have disbanded at the peak of their powers, I hope many other bands with the punk spirit will carry the torch of exploration that The Shape Of Punk To Come lit. And set the world on fire with it. . . .

Track Information:
Worms Of The Senses / Faculties Of The Skull
Liberation Frequency
The Deadly Rhythm
Summerholidays Vs. Punkroutine
British Poem #5
New Noise
The Refused Party Program
Protest Song '68
Refused Are Fuckin' Dead
The Shape Of Punk To Come
Tannhauser / Derive
The Apollo Programme Was A Hoax

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