Punk rock was on life support in 1998 when the Refused released The Shape of Punk to Come. There has never been a more aptly-titled record, both in defiantly sticking up for a dying genre and aligning their adventuresome tendencies with Ornette Coleman's. Five Swedish hardcore kids showed up to the Vans Warped Tour era with an actual punk record, one made good with the Sex Pistols' ideas not as much in sound or style as in innovation. 14 years later, it still sounds like The Shape of Punk to Come, a direction that punk music will take, but not for a long time.
"New Noise" may be the only song here that could have appeared on a Punk-O-Rama comp, but even at their tightest, the Refused sound unhinged. Blasts of proto-mathcore get thrown in with some Dischord-worthy melodies. If there were a verse-chorus-verse structure, it'd be compared to the Pixies, but instead it stands as one of the first glimpses of punk as something that jazzheads would play. Converge and the Dillinger Escape Plan would go on to fuse some of these ideas with metal, a genre already known for its musicianship, but with the Refused it's still strictly punk. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"There's nothing fucking 'mere' about drawing." --Albert Dorne