The Finnish quintet Refusal was formed in '08 as a thrash metal band. They have released five demos this far, this being the newest one, and during the time their style has changed to death metal.
Although the demo lasts for mere nine minutes, it still gives a good and even flattering image of the band. The songs rely on fast blasting drums and many rhythmic hooks that give them a great deal of catchiness despite their brutality. The riffs' rhythm-based nature makes them sound somewhat simple, but their fast pace, the more technical lead guitar and the riffs' great amount of attitude makes the simplisticity harder to notice. The vocals are mostly served as gruff growls, along with some hoarse shouts and screams to keep the vocals from becoming dull. The leading vocal style reminds me of the vocals on newer Napalm Death-albums due to their similarly "stuffed" sound, but Refusal's ones have more youthful zeal and lunacy - understandably, as the band members are just a little over 20 years old on average.
The songs get their appeal from the fast blasting balancing with some slower moments to create a great contrast, as well as the riffs' reliance on appealing rhythmics. There are some small adds here and there to keep the listener awake, the most noteworthy being the really stylish and "evil" guitar solo in the last moments of "G.O.A." The overall fast pace and the vocal- and drumming chaos might sound too overwhelming at first, but the more simple guitar-rhythms balance it out and make the songs more logical without eating away their aggression. Refusal's mixture of chaos and sense, as well as haste and catchiness is truly commendable.
The visual side doesn't give a reason to cheer; the bullets & blood-collage cover image came out dull, and the inlay holds a pixelated image of a barbed wire fence. It holds the basic infos and the lyrics though, so the end result is acceptable for a price this low. The lyrics are nothing new in death metal; hate, blood, gore and humour. Still, they fit the band's music, and that's what matters - and hey, "G.O.A." is the first song I've heard with the word "Ugabuga!" in the lyrics. It makes no sense, but shows that the band are doing exactly what they feel like doing.
"Short on Ammo" is a brief introduction to a band with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm towards their music. They don't take their music dead-seriously which allows them to experiment more freely, and it must be one of the key factors behind the demo's relaxed but energetic delivery. The demo is all about energy, catchiness and quality - even the soundscape is fittingly heavy and professional, but still holds enough rawness and snot to not come out as too polished. The demo's short length just leaves me to wonder if the band's approach would last in a longer form, say, for example through a whole 20-minute EP? I have my doubts due to the songs being so instantly appealing and catchy, but with minor adjustments (for example through taking the dynamics or the heaviness further, or by adding more full-on chaos to the compositions) it could well be possible.
The demo is available as a free download, as well as a CD-R costing mere two euros without postage. If you can enjoy death metal in a less grumpy and serious form, give Refusal a try.