Since Slapshot has been virtually inactive over the last couple years (there’s a new record in the works, apparently), it makes perfect sense that Boston’s Refuse Resist would step in with the same gargly hardcore punk as Choke and the boys to fill in the temporary void.
While not a dead-ringing clone entirely, Refuse Resist (presumably taking their name from the left-leaning human rights campaign of the same name) plays a very similar brand of straight-ahead, old-time hardcore as Slapshot, and vocalist Shawn Refuse does the world’s best Jack Kelly impression. Coincidentally, while Slapshot featured Ed Lalli of the Welch Boys filling in on guitar for Digital Warfare and Tear it Down (which came out on Thorp Records), Socialized features the Welch Boys’ Mark Powers standing in on bass and is also out on Thorp Records.
The cover of Socialized is marked by one of the most pointed and timely conceptual illustrations in recent years, a human wired through the brain to social networks Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, a precursor to the technological singularity cybernetic assholes like Ray Kurzweil promote. Refuse Resist supplements the anti-tech sentiment with the title track, asserting “We are being desensitized / Socialized / Don’t let it control our lives.”
Half the time the band’s message is upbeat, and the other half is almost comically pessimistic like fellow Bostonians Toxic Narcotic on “Shoulda Been Aborted,” “At a Dead End” and the opener “Middle America.” The anti-tax “IRS,” with a chorus of “Fuck the IRS,” sounds like it could be the rallying cry of conservative tea-baggers if it weren't for the qualifying verse “Where does it go in the end? / To guns and bombs and shit like that,” which puts it further left than any libertarian greed espousal.
On the positive end, “One Life” is both the album’s best song by far, and its catchiest. The monotone spoken word breakdown is amusing and slightly reminiscent of Guttermouth’s “Lemon Water” and the booming chorus is pleasant and satisfying. “Sunday Matinee” retells the nearly lost pastime of Sunday all-ages hardcore shows, while the reflective “What Is Right” is a fitting dedication to Shawn’s grandmother, dog, and cat, who all died within months of each other.
Refuse Resist certainly aren’t forging any new ground stylistically (hence the proverbial flogged horse in the Slapshot comparisons), but the band is solid and the tunes are all pretty enjoyable. Fans of Boston hardcore should pick this up while we all await the impending return of Choke Kelly and company soon.