If you haven't heard of Refused, I'll try to give you the two sentence rundown and fill you in a bit. Although their lineup has changed several times, the four-piece Swedish group has thusfar been known as hardcore, with a bit of a punk edge. Their last album Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent was song after song of relentlessly growled vocals and chunky rhythm guitars over heavy-hit drums. Let's just say that with this new album, some fans of the group may be upset with them, and they'll probably get bashed by some of the hardcore purists for swaying in their sounds a lot and even (gasp!) including an acoustic number.
On the lyrical and political side of things, there is absolutely no letdown, and if anything, this is more straight for the core of things. The release is subtitled "A Chimeral Bombination In 12 Bursts" and while it doesn't bombard you sonically in the same way that their last albums have, it's definitely no less powerful. From the first line of, "I've got a bone to pick with Capitalism, and a few to break," you'd better know what you're in for. Not only does the inner booklet contain lyrics to all the songs, but it also contains a piece (a sort of mini-manifesto) written by the band on all the issues that they're trying to tackle with the album, and what they think needs to be done. While it covers a lot of the same rebellious nature of typical punk lyrics, it's easy to tell that a little more thought went into it than normal.
Like the lyrics, the music on the disc falls into an almost concept album sort of feel. It starts off with a bit of spoken word before ripping into the first track, which stretches itself out to over 8 minutes, complete with quiet segues and added radio static. From there, the album touches on almost everything in the musical spectrum, from ambient electronic, to sung vocals (which is quite a change from the usual screams), and as mentioned before, ends up on an acoustic number. The group seems to have learned the value of a nicely built song and plays with dramatic quiet and loud to create a huge amount of musical tension. There are a few small bits that don't work, but as a whole, the album is cohesive and is a brilliant sidestep the genre. Even though they did break up soon after it was released, it doesn't make it any less of an achievement. Listen to it and renew your faith in punk again.