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A punk landmark.
on 14 November 2006
The influence of this seminal album, especially now that emo is the zeitgeist, is extremely prominent at the moment. This album is a punk landmark, and its title is prophetic. Released in 1998 after their short, sharp Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent, as the liner notes state, it is the sound of a band pulling in different directions, and making the album of their career, before splitting up. Frankly, when you've made an album like this, where could they possibly have gone afterwards?
The album is around twice as long as the last one, most songs are five to eight minutes long and there are several songs with cellos and synthesisers on. It couldn't be much more different to its predecessor. This is no bad thing.
Whereas previously their songs were short blasts of punk extremity, here, the music is heavier, louder and longer. Opener 'Worms Of The Senses/Faculties Of The Skull' sets the scene perfectly. Opening with traffic noises and a soundbite about style, its opening gambit is 'I've got a bone to pick with capitalism/and a few to break.' It's seven minutes long, the last minute of which is a borderline comedic, wandering synth loop. It's punk, Jim, but not as we know it.
The sheer anger on display here seems to put hardcore to shame. Not just due to the segues between most tracks, this album works perfectly both as an hour-long masterpiece and as individual blasts of political hardcore. 'Liberation Frequency' goes from restrained clicking drums to one of the heaviest riffs on this album (and that's saying something); 'The Refused Party Program' is the closest to their prior material, but even that ends in an overloading synth; 'New Noise' is their definitive track, boasting one of the most massive-sounding guitar riffs ever put to tape; and 'Tannhauser/Derive' blends cello, riffs and a throat-shredding vocal to breathtaking effect.
Anyone who is even slightly a fan of punk or hardcore needs to own this album. Anyone who listens to emo or post-hardcore needs to own this album and see the stronger music that came beforehand.
This heart-stopping meisterwerk is absolutely essential.