I don’t feel as if any great introduction is needed for Refused. The kind of band that showcased such a talent in a relatively short period of time were always going to grab peoples attention and six years on from the split, it is amazing to see the reaction of fans everywhere as they seem doubly as popular now as they were back when Beckham let the country down in a major tournament for the first time. Bazing!

With a fanbase that is ever expanding, there is no better time for the Refused virgin to look up the bands back catalogue which has only recently been re-released by those wonderful chaps at Epitaph/Burning Heart. We are treated to a compilation of all the singles, mini-CD’s, ‘un-heard’ songs from B-sides, comps etc, the finest 16 have been selected and it doesn’t let you down in the slightest. With the group disbanding after the awe inspiring ‘Shape of Punk to Come’ many bands have attempted to pick up the pieces left behind but many have failed as the band turned hardcore on its head. But you aren’t here to listen to my warblings on that release, so lets discuss the ins and outs of the stuff that never made it to their full lengths… Well most of it anyway.

With the majority of songs witnessed here coming from between 94-96, the seeds are clearly sewn for what was to come and all stink of the mannerisms of a band who were inevitably destined for bigger things. Opening with ‘New Noise’ which needs no further comment, it starts on a high and most would be asking the question of where can it go from there. Well onto the second track ‘Blind Date’ surprisingly enough and it is another stonker as it bounces effortlessly from the speedy vocals at the beginning to the thunderous opening once the formal introductions have been made. From here on in we are treated to a delicate blend of soothing melodies to blood and thunder music in the shape of ‘Lick it Clean’ and the furious ‘Circle Pit’ which showcases the sublime vocal supremacy of Dennis Lyxzén in all its glory.

While certain tracks are happy to act like an enraged maniac at an anger management clinic, other more ‘somber’ (I use the term loosely) efforts show themselves in the shape of the all-Swedish ballad fest of ‘Jag Ater Inte Mina Vanner’ which is quite poetic in grace before a frenetic closing while tidy instrumentals are also on the disc in the form of ‘Refused are fucking dead’ and the Prodigy’s ‘Voodoo People’. It shows a more eclectic side of the band which many may not fully appreciate. It isn’t all picture perfect however as ‘Poetry Written in Gasoline’ and ‘Everlasting’ prove slight let downs but the cracks are dusted over with the awe inspiring ‘The Real’ and the majestic final track ‘Pretty Face’ which shifts between spoken word moments of grace and thundering drives of angst without the flicker of an eyelid.

There aren’t too many people out there who bear a grudge against the band and this maybe the perfect opener for any would be fans. I would however be more inclined to recommend one of their other full lengths that are currently available as they are pretty much perfection on a shiny round thing. Everything from the politically minded lyrics to the well arranged music is to a more than satisfactory standard here and proves a must for those are not yet inclined to the band. Refused are fucking dead, long live the fucking re-release.

Jay