Review Summary: Give it a 5.
The Shape of Punk to Come
was one of the very first albums that laid the foundations of the perfectionist nature of punk that was yet to emerge, a vastly superior subgenre of primitive punk that became known as post-hardcore. The album title's allusion to this musical shift serves, on a purely textual level, as a testament to the band's visionary tendencies and high level of intellect. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find a single aspect of this album that, at the time it was released, didn't show the revolutionary concept Refused had always aspired to execute.
The riffs became more meaningful, carrying weight and purpose that was at the time reserved for only the most experimental bands in rock music such as Opeth. The guitar interplay became a dominant feature of future post-hardcore (or post-punk, if you will) as the guitarists alternated between mind-numbingly technical math riffs, gut-wrenching wails and abrasive post-progressive avantgarde sprawled out dissonant chugging shreds. The usual generic angry shouts were abandoned in favor of a more human approach, with the vocalist (sub)humanly shrieking from the bottom of his heart, spitting out lyrics that one never even dared to imagine to hear in punk one day, such as "We lack the motion to move to the new beat. YEAAAH, we lack motion!". Indeed, it is not very difficult to see where the vocalists of the more emotional variety of hardcore such as Discordance Axis, Pianos Become The Teeth or Defeater got their inspiration from. But frankly, can we blame them when the results were this perfect? The drumming gained focus and strength, no longer applying to the rules of underdeveloped 80s punk scene. The production underwent one of the most radical changes in music. Gone were the walls of noise pioneered by Misfits or the lo-fi aesthetics brought to the table by Dead Kennedys. Instead, the production turned bright and sharp, allowing the talent and artistic vision (special thanks to BaselineOOO for pointing this out| to shine through with every passing riff and every moment of silent contemplation.
While we all love La Dispute and Thrice, it is vital to remember the roots of their classic style of music, the band that started it all. I urge you to download this album, in hopes that one day you will 5 it as hard as I did.