ake this time to recognize what you as witnessing
Is the final breakdown of industry.
Breach in protocol.
Let’s walk across this line they’ve drawn with flags
Flown high and fists flown higher.”
– The Rise, “Sophisticated Approach”
Almost no band that has broken up in the past ten years has had their legacy ruined more quickly and more permanently than the Swedish hardcore band Refused. Nowadays, they’re remembered as much for the fact that Papa Roach and Crazy Town adore them as being the groundbreaking band of hardcore. (Let’s not even get into the latter band’s mortifyingly embarrassing cover of “New Noise” floating ‘round the net.) Narrow-minded hardcore kids everywhere have been berating the band on message boards since their break-up, saying that Refused was “pretentious” and “not he4vy enoff, d00d!”. Apparently, not even the people who used to be in Refused can secure that band’s legacy; Ian Svenonious' – I mean Dennis Lyxzen’s (International) Noise Conspiracy is more of a cruel joke than anything else. In addition, the fact that Lyxzen has openly criticized the concept of his former band in interviews doesn’t help matters. TEXT, the band featuring the other ex-members of Refused, doesn’t even show up on anyone’s radar. Put simply, the grave of Refused has been repeatedly spat on, defaced, and pissed on, even by its own fathers.
Well, back off from the tombstone, because here come the cleaners.
Austin TX’s The Rise, like Refused before them, are hellbent on changing the face of hardcore. And boy does it ever need changing. If I hear one more band that insults my intelligence – one more band that sounds like Hopesfall or From Autumn To Ashes, I’m giving up on this “scene”. Signal To Noise is one giant “fuck you” to the concept of complacency, both lyrically and musically. In a scene full of talentless hacks and inflated, testosterone-blinded egos, it only takes one dissenter to make a statement. Refused was that dissenter four years ago. Now, The Rise carries that torch. Their brand of electronic-infused hardcore picks up precisely where Lyxzen’s ex-band left off – the Refused influence on this album is so heavy at times that anyone who didn’t know any better would think The Rise and Refused were the same band. Whereas Refused usually kept their electronics and rock separately, however, The Rise shamelessly and seamlessly intertwine the two throughout Signal To Noise. The result is slap in the face of the “scene” at large.
Fortunately, Refused’s influence on the band once known as The Theresa Banks Profiles has affected the substance of their music as well as the style and spirit. Signal To Noise kicks off with what is easily the best hardcore song of the year so far, “The Fallacy of Retrospective Determinism”. There is a fine line between heavy music that rocks the body and heavy music that stones the body – this song is that line. From the synth-laden interludes to the simultaneously crushing and uplifting chorus, the opening track to Signal To Noise is spot-on and doesn’t waver for a second. Next up is the brief, but almost equally riveting “An Automated Response If You Will” – all I have to say is that the rap-rock (!) verses are catchy-as-hell and also the only good example of the sub-genre that I can think of offhand. E-Town Concrete has nothing on this song. The keyboards and guitars bounce back and forth, Stuart Reilly chants “And shut down this assembly line quality/Your coin flipping, paper, scissors rock mentality/You justify through cognitive dissonance/lost in the sound of machine-cut resonance” and The Rise subsequently pummel the listener with some bone-crushing hardcore – all in two minutes.
The energy does not let up from there. “Constructive Criticisms For A Predetermined Body Type” is another Refused-style rock-fest that puts some bands’ entire careers to shame. Towards the middle and end of the album, Milemarker-esque post-hardcore works its way into the Signal To Noise equation – a welcome change from the crunching and blipping of the first four tracks. It’s extremely refreshing to see a heavy band that actually cares a little bit about their dynamics and sound textures as opposed to just wanting to hit the listener over the head with E chords. I only wish that in the future, The Rise breaks from the mold more and takes even more risks than they take on this album.
In essence, there is hardly a weak spot on Signal To Noise. Even The Rise’s one-song foray into straight-up electronics, “Station Identification For The Print Less”, is tastefully done, if not a bit overlong. Sure, we could all do without the droning, Conet Project-laden outro to “Goals Methodology Assessment”, but such slip ups are to be expected in any band, hardcore or not, that is actually trying to not sound like everything else out there. The Rise are just as their band name implies – the rise of intelligent modern hardcore. Refused’s legacy is finally safe with these five Texans.
The tomb of Refused has been cleansed. The tomb of alpha-male, testosterone-blinded hardcore has been dug. It will not end here, trust me. These sounds will kill.
Reviewed by: Nnamdi Ezeife
Reviewed on: 2003-09-01