The Finnish mammoth that is Rotten Sound is back with a fast, pulverising & HM2-soaked lesson in grinding.
Formed in 1993 & still featuring original members Sami Latva (Drums) & Keijo Niinimaa (Vocalist), Rotten Sound were the new breed in the early ’90s of blending the classic Swedish death metal sound of Entombed & Grave with the grindcore & hardcore styles of Napalm Death & Terrorizer.
Now thirty years into the band’s legacy with a catalogue of some of the best & extreme showcases of violence on the senses, Rotten Sound are now releasing their 8th album “Apocalypse”.
18 tracks with a lean twenty minutes & forty seconds run time “Apocalypse” feels like one of the band’s most focused & precise albums in a number of years.
The group’s last album “Abuse to Suffer” released in 2016 was a more raw affair & the closest sonically I’ve heard on record to the band’s chaotic live sound.
“Apocalypse” still has the chaotic & frantic trademark auditory assault we are akin to with Rotten Sound. But within the record, it feels like a more thorough, well-crafted album.
Vocalist Niinimaa states that due to the pandemic, the band had an extra 6 months to fine-tune the album & it really shows. Now we aren’t talking about a leap in technical ability or a complete shift.
Here we have the bloodsoaked chainsaw tones & punchy kinetic grinding long started with the band, but now there are bigger hooks & catchy sections which make the tracks very memorable.
Even with the album’s short run time tracks like “Equality” & “Renewables” really stand out. The added use of new bassist Matti Raappana’s backing vocals gives the album a new texture & the band another toe dipped into the Napalm Death realm like the great Greenway & Harris back & forth Niinimaa & Raappana share.
The title track “Apocalypse” has some opening few seconds which is a barrage of punishment & but the band keep it up throughout its just over one minute run time. The adage of a memorable & pit starting riff in the second half of the track leaves it on a high point!
“Denialist” even gives the band a moment to show off their slower moments, a distorted & droning intro lets them switch up to a d-beat speed which gives a nice balance. One of the band’s best attributes has always been knowing when to go full throttle & when to dial it back. Giving the listener a moment to breathe before letting rip again.
Even the second half of the album keeps up the pace as well as the interesting & noteworthy riffs.
“Ownership” has a fantastic, two step & even skanking bridge section which parts the sea between the first & last halves of freight train blasting.
Closing the album “Inflation” is just an all around great Rotten Sound track, using some great layering vocals, even in a gang vocal sense & the closing riff caught me off guard in the best way.
Rotten Sound is always constant when it comes to new material. They never stray too far from the path with each new record. But they manage to add small incremental elements or things you aren’t expecting to keep the album from being stale or redundant.
“Apocalypse” is a solid album & one of the best in the later half of Rotten Sounds catalogue. Sonically the team behind the album have captured the band in their most raw & clearest sound to date.
The mixing by Jesse Gander (Rain City Studios) & mastering by Brad Boatbright (Audio Siege) has allowed the band to showcase each member’s individual sound perfectly while still maintaining the albums overall machine gun like attack.
Rotten Sound somehow even eight albums into a career can keep their sound fresh, diverse & sometimes surprise you with a piledriver of an album like “Apocalypse”.
Review: Joseph Mitchell
Vinyl in various colours
Apocalypse is out via Season of Mist on 31 March 2023
|5 Suburban Bliss||1:41|
|8 Digital Bliss||1:17|
|9 True and False||0:19|
|12 Fight Back||1:04|
Mika Aalto – guitars
Matti Raappana – bass and backing vocals
Sami Latva – drums
Keijo Niinimaa – lead vocals