Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Refused at the Bowery Ballroom

Dennis Lyxzen
When Dennis Lyxzén was a teen-ager in Umeå, Sweden, his classmates were listening to pop and heavy metal. Lyxzén, however, listened to hardcore punk, particularly from New York bands. Eventually he had to convince a few metal heads to share his vision and form a hardcore band. Today, Lyxzén sings in several bands in Sweden, including the hardcore AC4 and the more new wave INVSN (a.k.a. Invasionen). In America, his best known band is the recently reunited Refused, a band that morphed pop, punk and screamo. Refused formed in 1991 and released three albums before disbanding in 1998. The band reunited in 2012 for a world tour, then split again and recently reunited again for a 2015 album and tour. Refused will release its fourth studio album (and the first in 17 years), Freedom, on June 30, 2015. The band presently is composed of Lyxzén, guitarist Kristofer Steen, bassist Magnus Flagge and original drummer David Sandström.

At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Refused professed that it was a living, active band by starting the concert with a song from the forthcoming album. Like the rest of the set, the song featured strong, coarse guitar lines and raging screamo vocals. The second song was the title track of the band's best-known album, 1998's The Shape of Punk to Come; of the evening's 15 songs, nine would come from that album. Angry, aggressive and intense, the volatile dynamic never softened, even with detours to off-kilter beats and ambient sounds. While  Lyxzén worked the audience visually, Steen work the sound aurally, with guitar progressions that frequently squealed louder than Lyxzén's vocals. Refused did not come back to life for a nostalgia or throwback show; on the contrary, the band returned more dangerous than ever.

Refused will return to a New York stage on August 5 opening for Faith No More at Madison Square Garden. In the meantime, visit Refused at