The second full-length release from Sweden's Refused, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent was released in 1996 to uniform praise as the group's worldwide following grew in both numbers and intensity. Signifying a musical evolution that culminated with their masterpiece The Shape of Punk to Come, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent is perhaps the most metal offering in the group's catalogue. Consistently aggressive, the staccato guitar riffs and drumming rest directly on top of the beat, giving this tighter, later-era Refused material a thick sound that retains its punk energy. Highlights include the almost-death metal grooves on "Life Support Addiction" and "Worthless Is the Freedom Bought," the latter being a somewhat scattered but still monumental hardcore epic. Quiet sections on cuts like "Return to the Closet" are an ambitious surprise that fans of the group's more single-minded early-career demos and EPs might not feel any special affinity for. But this range just broadens the band's unique appeal. A truly definitive late-'90s hardcore disc, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent is a first-rate record from one of the best, most aggressive hardcore bands of this or any era.
AllMusic Review by Jason Anderson