The Malignant Fire by RefusedRelease date: November 20, 2020
Label: Spinefarm/Search And Destroy Records
After a couple of well received but underground albums in the mid 1990s in the shape of This Might Just Be…The Truth and Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent, Refused released their much loved and ahead of its time album The Shape Of Punk To Come in 1998, an album that infused electronic influences with their furious hardcore and acted as their masterpiece and swansong at the same time as they famously declared Refused Are Fucking Dead and split up shortly after and they did indeed seem to be fucking dead for a while as their legacy grew.
Fans rejoiced however when the band announced their long awaited return via a series of live performances including an incendiary performance at that years Download Festival and with 2015s Freedom and last years War Music albums, it proved that Refused were back and as valid and vibrant as ever.
Onto 2020 and with everything that has gone on this year involving the global pandemic shattering the live plans of every band on the planet and in lieu of their subsequent cancelled tour, Refused have instead brought out much needed new music in the shape of The Malignant Fire EP and it’s a glorious collection of that forward thinking and electronic infused punk and that we have come to love from Refused, with the band sounding as gloriously discordant as ever.
‘Malfire’ kicks off the EP and comes complete with a nagging riff that is reminiscent of the bands breakout “hit” ‘New Noise’ but delivered with a more anthemic stance which works extremely well, and this is soon followed by the crunching ‘Born On The Outs’ a track that is Refused’s interpretation of dance music behemoths Swedish House Mafia’s track ‘Greyhound’ and the bands version beefs up the originals riff and adds lyrics and gives it the Refused touch and it just works. With the use of electronic music being very much in the musical lineage of Refused, this isn’t really a surprise despite the difference on paper between them and Swedish House Mafia.
The jagged groove ‘Organic Organic Organic (Go Fuck Yourself)’ adds a change of pace to proceedings before the manic yet melodic ‘Faceless Corporate Violence’ sees the band rallying against the same targets that they have done since they started.
The EP ends with ‘Jackals Can’t Be Bothered To Dream’ which sonically sounds like the most metal song that Refused have ever done and sounds like the same berserk metal meets punked up rock n roll that fellow Swedish band Entombed do so well but with the fiery political lyrics that Refused have made their own and is a fine way to end this EP.
The Malignant Fire comes from the same place as The The Shape Of Punk To Come spiritually and sonically and shows that even after over two decades from that album and the subsequent split and return, Refused seem as forward thinking when delivering their music today and for that they should gain their deserved plaudits and it will be very interesting to see what they come up with next.