Step Forward – Demos 1989-1990
The importance and impact these songs had on Swedish hardcore is huge, they truly built the foundation of the Umeå Hardcore scene to come.
It might sound like a cliché but music really can change lives. I should know because one band in particular changed mine. I am not going to dwell too deep into that now but let’s say that everyone that knows me also knows that the Umeå hardcore band Refused means the world to me. I wonder who I would be today if I wouldn’t have been swept in to the hardcore scene as a kid with Refused being the stepping stone.
Speaking about changing lives. Without Step Forward there would be no Refused. And without Refused there would not be a Swedish hardcore scene as we know it. It all started with a band called Step Forward in the late ’80s. Four young punks started the band and then introduced the kids in Umeå to hardcore music and drug free living. Yes, Step Forward were one of the very first Swedish bands that claimed Straight Edge. The band only existed a couple of years but soon after they split up the singer Dennis Lyxzén started a new band called Refused. The rest is history.
It was 1996 and Refused had recently released Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent. Internet was not yet a big thing so it was harder to catch up on information about bands and releases back then. But I found the Step Forward CD It Did Make A Difference at a local record store and discovered that Dennis Lyxzén was in the band. Yes, Dennis from Refused! It had to be good! There was no track listing on the backside of the CD, just a cool photo of Dennis jumping and a big text saying Umeå Hardcore. Well, what else do you need? I bought it instantly. It turned out that the CD included two demo tapes (everything they recorded), some live songs and rehearsal tracks. The music then? Well, they didn’t sound at all like Refused, not even close to Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent. More like Minor Threat in-your-face-style hardcore punk band. Of course I loved it.
Let’s step fast forward in time. In 2020 the Berlin based label Refuse Records finally puts out the Step Forward demos on vinyl for the first time! It’s a massive release with more than I could ever have wished for. Great artwork, good looking glossy print, colored vinyl, oldschool fanzine styled lyric sheet with all the lyrics, lots of photos and liner notes written by Dennis. This historical document is a must-have for everyone into hardcore, not just for the Refused diehards like me. Everyone that wants a piece of hardcore history should pick this up and dig deeper in on the legacy of Step Forward. The importance and impact these songs had on Swedish hardcore is huge, they truly built the foundation of the Umeå Hardcore scene to come. Step Forward really did make a difference.
Guest review by Micke Persson (@refusedfan on Instagram)