Ever evolving and always absolutely vital, Swedish post punk legends Refused back up last years full length album War Music with a whole new slew of tracks which make up The Malignant Fire E.P. The massively influential four piece have been pushing the boundaries of punk and hardcore music since their inception in 1991. Not content to lean on their Earth Crisis meets Snapcase laurels, they have been consistently challenging the “norm” since those early efforts and nearly 30 years on, they are still at it.
Keeping it familiar, the band open with Malfire, the standout track from the War Music album, where abrasive guitars are met with a dark, almost Stone Roses style jangle, with Dennis Lyxzen showing his vocal chops once more. Next up is where the real genius in Refused can be found. Not shy about throwing a curveball occasionally the boys have chosen to cover a track by equally influential house music outfit Swedish House Mafia. But this a Refused makeover and by god, they are going to write their own lyrics to it and even rename it. Sounds like a recipe for a disaster, but again I reiterate, this is Refused and they have made it work and Born On The Outs has classic written all over it.
A brooding bass line leads us is into the politically fuelled angst of Organic, Organic, Organic (Go Fuck Yourself). The anger spills over into Faceless Corporate Violence, with the track title being screamed over and over in classic Refused style. To finish the whole thing off the band take it back to those early days with Jackals Can’t Be Bothered To Dream an almost straight up Hardcore track, albeit with just a smidge of theatre.
Very few do it as well and as consistently as Refused who manage to maintain the balance between fresh and familiar, enough so that we keeping coming back for more. The Malignant Fire is a perfect example of what the band are all about, so if you haven’t already discovered Sweden’s best export, then this is the perfect chance and if you are already a full paid up member of the fan club then you will be clamouring for this anyway. I dare say you’d struggle to find five better tracks collected together anywhere else in 2020… Chris Andrews