Review Summary: Refused stripped down and armed with a machine gun. Quick and relentless, yet fun in the same line of fire.
Refused, the practical leaders of the political music party in the late nineties, came out with an album that does not get the attention deserves. That would be their 1996 release entitled Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent. A raw and edgy release from the Swedish hardcore punk band that was a clear sign they were somebody in the musical spectrum.
Lead vocalist, Dennis Lyxzen, knew how to write witty and meaningful revolutionary-esque lyrics in a genre of punk that contains some bland and teenage styled lyrics (Anti-Flag anyone?). Dennis was in his mid twenties talking about destruction of governments, the overbearing force of the government, and even religious ideals. For instance, Lyxzen says in Coup D’Etat (oh yeah, so no one pronounces it wrong, it is pronounced ‘ku de'ta) that he will be the one to start the overthrow of the government and he will be the one to start the riots that will cause the downfall of a corrupted organization. Throughout his writings, Dennis wishes for a change in world’s policies and the basics of what should or will be done.
However, lyrics are only one of the pieces. The production is good even though it is not top quality; it flows with the overall feel of the album. The record begins with a chant (protest-like) and droning noises until there is a snare roll to jumpstart the energy-laced Rather Be Dead. It begins the one-two punch for the two best songs on the record. Both Coup D’Etat and Rather Be Dead contain the traditional hardcore punk essentials, but they make it their own style by making a more complex sound. They do have the occasional breakdown thrown in, but Refused know how to moderate their songs unlike a huge portion of bands out there. Nonetheless, they still know how to write creative and fun riffs without chugga-chugga every minute. The bass is smooth and shines when needed, whether it is the transition of a musical phrase or a little bridge, such that in Coup D’Etat and the introduction to This Trust Will Kill Again.
As far as the total sound of the songs, they are of a distinct 'Refused' sound. However, the intro of Hook, Line and Sinker oddly enough reminds me of a Mastodon song whenever it is randomly played on shuffle, which is bizarre considering their styles of music. However, most songs are easily recognizable as a Refused song, as they should be. Songs like The Slayer begins rolling at a furious pace as they are carried by the pulsating drums. Through the simplistic writing style, they make it more interesting that it really should be. They stuck with their roots of musical prowl and succeeded.
Taking into account the whole record, Refused at the time had not evolved their sound to what it could be in the future. This album was a huge building block for what was to come with their careers. They made a great album that would soon evolve to much bigger ideas and musical passages. Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent is essential to understand their work as a whole, because one record leads to another, and without this one, who knows what would have become of them.