Hard rock and punk have gone through some pretty tumultuous times in the last few years, but despite the chaos in their scene, The Refusers are rising from the ashes of that era with a blistering sound all their own. Formed with a protest angle in mind, The Refusers unleashed a star single “Propaganda,” we get an idea as to just how invested in reviving classic punk riffing these guys are.
“Propaganda” is a simple, cut-and-dry rock song with some flamboyant guitar parts and a straightforward vocal attack, but for all that it lacks in frills, it more than compensates us for in pure, molten-hot energy in the vein of bands that helped to spur forth quite the political discord some forty years ago. They might not be the first group to string together pounding drums, explosive drums, and palatable vocals in a full-fledged masculinity anthem, but as the rock genre currently stands in 2023, they’re definitely on the cutting edge of its future.
There isn’t any fluff for us to sift through in “Propaganda,” and while it can be said that this isn’t the most barebones hard rock tune you’re going to find in the American underground right now, it’s devoid of the overproduced elements commonly found among mainstream “rock” acts. The bassline isn’t the main source of the power in this track; actually, I think that it isn’t quite as loud as it needs to be, particularly in the chorus.
The drums drown out a lot of the bottom-end in the clinch moments we hear around the hook, but I can see where this might have been an intentional result on the part of The Refusers if they were trying to create a suffocating pull in the most climactic moment of the song. Calculated and cerebral where it matters, “Propaganda” points us in the direction of physicality without ever making us feel pressurized or overwhelmed by the intensity of the music, which isn’t all that easy to do. They’re not quite there yet, but with time and continued practice outside of the studio environment, The Refusers could be one of the premier groups in all of rock n’ roll through the 2020s.
The brawn that they show off in “Propaganda” is something to be taken seriously, and though it’s coupled with a straight-up, to-the-point ethic that would normally be suited better with a punk unit, the music isn’t deprived of natural bombast as a result at all. It’s going to be an interesting decade for this genre of music, and with acts like The Refusers fighting their way into the conversation with provocatively-stylized material like this, I think we can expect a lot of great things from the underground over the next few years.
The concept here is relatively basic in comparison to what some in the critical community might be expecting, but that’s the greatest charm of the track – it’s wholly missing all of the excesses that typically come between a message and the audience it has been intended for. This is a great jumping-off point, and they deserve all of the limelight they’re receiving for it.
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