Refused – Freedom (2015) [Pono FLAC 24/44,1]

Refused – Freedom (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz | Time – 00:43:08 minutes | 523 MB | Genre: Rock
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: PonoMusic |  © Epitaph Records
Recorded: October 2014, Seedy Underbelly, LA; February 2015, Decibel Studios/mxm Studios, Stockholm

Refused are fucking alive. There’s no escape. The Iconic Swedish hardcore band have released Freedom their first new album in 17 years.

In 1998 Refused released their iconic album The Shape of Punk to Come. It was also the year that the band broke up and declared “Refused Are Fucking Dead”. Fourteen years later, the band reignited in 2012 for a Coachella performance. The group started contemplating new music within the first four months of the reunion tour, a process greatly aided by the fact that drummer David Sandström, guitarist Kristofer Steen, and bassist Magnus Flagge had already been writing together informally for several years under the auspices of a new, vocal-less band.

Freedom explodes out of the speakers with opening track “Elektra,” as Lyxzén throat-shredding declaration that “nothing has changed” catapults Refused into the 21st century. Production for Freedom was overseen by Nick Launay (Gang Of Four, Public Image Ltd., Nick Cave, and Arcade Fire. “Elektra” and “366” were produced and co-written by fellow Swede and longtime Refused fan Shellback, who has scored eight No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with artists such as Taylor Swift and Pink.

Noted punk band breaks up in the wake of its best album, and after repeatedly insisting they’ll never reunite, the bandmembers get back together to play a few high-profile shows. After calling it a day following said tour, they decide to make a new album as they learn there’s good money to be made playing the festival circuit. Sound familiar? More than a few bands have followed this template, and there’s no arguing Refused are one of them, but the smart Swedish punks clearly aren’t going through the motions on 2015’s Freedom, their first album since 1997’s The Shape of Punk to Come as well as their first salvo since returning to action with a 2012 tour. Freedom is a considerably more aggressive set than The Shape of Punk to Come, recalling Refused’s earlier work rather than the dizzying eclecticism of their acknowledged masterpiece, but this is still clever and challenging stuff, making abundant use of electronics to complement and texturize their post-hardcore guitar attack (and the fact Refused were able to create this monolith of six-string howling after the departure of guitarist Jon Brännström says a great deal for the abilities of Kristofer Steen, who handles lead and rhythm all by himself here). Calling out God and Man with equal fury, lead vocalist Dennis Lyxzén doesn’t appear to have mellowed a bit in the course of 18 years, and bassist Magnus Flagge and drummer David Sandström are limber enough to keep the rhythms surprisingly flexible (when they’re on point, they recall a slightly funky version of the Jesus Lizard’s rhythm section, no small accomplishment). And while Refused sound more like a traditional punk band on Freedom than they did in 1997, these guys have no use for standard-issue 4/4 stomp; their music hits hard while they explore the rhythmic and musical possibilities of a four-man rock band, and the lyrics are as bitter, intelligent, and impassioned as ever as they howl out accusations against a world where wealth, power, and narrow-mindedness take their toll on us all. It’s not hard to be a bit cynical about Refused choosing to reunite, but Freedom sounds as furiously principled as this group has ever been, and it’s a liberating, hard-hitting exercise in punk for smart people. –AllMusic Review by Mark Deming

Tracklist:
1 Elektra 03:12
2 Old Friends – New War 04:27
3 Dawkins Christ 04:04
4 Francafrique 04:38
5 Thought Is Blood 04:18
6 War On The Palaces 03:34
7 Destroy The Man 03:23
8 366 05:19
9 Servants Of Death 03:43
10 Useless Europeans 06:31

Personnel:
Dennis Lyxzén – lead vocals
David Sandström – drums
Kristofer Steen – guitars
Magnus Flagge – bass guitar
The Françafrique Children’s Choir:
Rosie Ford
Grace Darces-Mannings
Elisa-Jane Pasfield
Jack Holman-Brown
Bianca Fonti
Hugo Roles

Additional:
Church – additional vocals (tracks 3, 4, 6, 7 and 9)
Jennifer Goodridge – additional vocals (tracks 3 and 10)
Brian Grover – additional vocals (tracks 3 and 10)
Adam “Atom” Greenspan – keyboards, programming (tracks 2 and 9)
Robert Columbus – percussion (tracks 3 and 4)
Rasmus Lindelöw – keyboards (tracks 5 and 6)
Dan Regan – horns (tracks 4 and 6)
John Christianson – horns (tracks 4 and 6)
Matt Appleton – horns (tracks 4 and 6)
Per Nordmark – tambourine (track 7)

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