Rotten Sound – Apocalypse Review

Serving the grind cause since forming thirty years ago, Finland’s Rotten Sound is a well-respected if somewhat underrated grindcore wrecking crew boasting an impressive track record. Coming off a banner year for grindcore, getting acquainted or reacquainted with the veteran act seems as good a time as any. Apocalypse marks the band’s eighth LP and first slab of full-length material (in grind terms) since 2016’s solid Abuse to Suffer. Although never a band to release half-arsed material, the question is whether they can up the ante and deliver an album to match such primo earlier releases, including Murderworks, Exit and Cursed. For those unfamiliar with Rotten Sound, they play a nasty, gnarly style of uncompromisingly vicious grind not dissimilar to the legendary Nasum and underappreciated Gadget.

In true grind style, Rotten Sound’s latest platter jams eighteen tunes into a mere twenty minutes of music, crafting an album designed for maximum impact and efficient killing power. As is customary for majority of grind albums, Apocalypse is best consumed as one dynamite whole that you can smash out three play-throughs within an hour, for those inclined. Original members Keijo Niinimaa (vocals) and Mika Aalto (guitars) spearhead the ferocious onslaught in typically feral fashion, with an equally up-to-task rhythm section in tow. Sharp, crusty, punk-infused grind riffs are spat out in rapid bursts of violence, the percussive onslaught relentless without being one-dimensional, while raw, savage vocals spin ugly tales of discontent amidst the controlled chaos. Sticking to their signature style, Rotten Sound, err…sound positively invigorated and inspired, and it is great to hear them back in action and in fine form to boot.

Niinimaa’s hardcore-tinged screams, barks and other variations deliver the goods in glass shattering style, displaying enough variation and venomous intent to once again demonstrate his status as a top-notch grind vocalist. As previously mentioned, Apocalypse works best as one solid smackdown upside the head. Rotten Sound jam tons of energy, riffs and explosively nasty grind into your earholes at a rapid rate and the whole thing is a quickfire blast of intense, high-quality grind action. It’s cool stuff that features Rotten Sound trademarks yet finds the band sounding a little fresher and more inspired compared to the past couple of solid releases. Apocalypse contains enough rhythmic and structural variables and noteworthy riffs to engage attention and avoid monotony. Far from easing the listener in, the devastating one-two punch of opening duo “Pacify” and “Equality” tear a visceral path of pure unrelenting rage and spine-snapping extremity, setting a brutal precedent.

Apocalypse is a brutal grind album and lacks the more accessible traits or tongue-in-cheek humor to perhaps reel in casual listeners not previously affiliated with grindcore. However, this is not to suggest Apocalypse is deficient in the songwriting or hook departments, as the quality riffs, vice-tight performances, and occasional subtle sliver of melody or hard-nosed groove strengthens the final product. The killer mid-song breakdown on the awesome “Fight Back,” sludge encrusted groove of “Sharing,” or chunky section of “Ownership” are a few of examples of their toughened, more palatable side, unleashing memorable moments to stick in the memory bank. Outside of these occasional eruptions of mid-paced beefiness, the pacing is full-throttle and relentless. The clean, in-your-face production contains the rougher edges and gnarly tones to compliment the band’s nasty, dirtied edges. On the flipside, Apocalypse is bricked to the shithouse and its overall loudness, coupled with Rotten Sound’s extreme attack, brings on ear fatigue, even during those shorter listening sessions, marring the experience.

Rotten Sound remain as reliable and vicious as ever on Apocalypse, so avid supporters of the band will be pleased by the aural caning the lads deliver here, arguably their most cutthroat and inspired album in some time. Newbies with a taste for the more serious, blistering aspects of grind, such as legends like the aforementioned Nasum, or veteran grinders Phobia, should find plenty to dine out on here. Rotten Sound is a vintage act, returning to the fold sounding inspired and raging as hard as ever. Proceed with caution.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Media Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Season of Mist
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Releases Worldwide: March 31st, 2023

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