Rotten Sound – Apocalypse Review

As I was winding up to write this review, I ran into one of my fellow Last Rites scribblers by the coffee machine in the break room. Turns out, he had been listening to this newest Rotten Sound, too, and so in a Tom Sawyer moment of work-shirking brilliance, I thought to casually ask him how he would describe Apocalypse in approximately 500 words…

His answer: “It is fast and angry.” Repeated 100 times.

He’s got a point, of course, but I can’t leave it there…

Release date: March 31, 2023. Label: Season Of Mist
Since finding firm footing ‘roundabout Murderworks, a little over two decades ago now, this Finnish foursome has spit forth a spate of savage Swedeath-tinted grindcore, buzzsaw bite and blasting beat in a free-for-all street brawl from which we all emerge winners. Now, going into the 8th Rotten Sound full-length (and 5th since Murderworks laid down those ground rules for grind ruleage), one would expect Apocalypse to play firmly to the band’s strengths, and in thinking that…

…well, one would be absolutely correct, although it not only plays to them, it bolsters them, pushes them back to a full power we’d hardly noticed they were lacking in the last outing. There are no surprises here, because Rotten Sound’s attack is very much not broken, and thus, no fixing is required. There is only ferocity and riff, screaming and carving, rage and raging; there is only fast music for slow people for thirty years and counting… and it’s goddamned glorious.

From the opening second, when “Pacify” blasts out of the speakers with a savage aggression, Apocalypse is remarkably relentless, driven by Sami Latva’s precision pummeling and given breadth and depth by the HM2 crush of Mika Aalto and the filth-caked rumbling of Matti Raappana. Atop it all, Keijo Niinamaa bellows and shrieks, his dry-throated snarling growl formidable, ferocious, and in full, fine form for this, bouncing off the occasional call and response with Raappana’s screaming backgrounds. All four members hand in as perfect a performance as could ever be expected of them, and Apocalypse’s sound is thick, stout, buzzing, a crushing wall of sheer grindcore force – and still, even with all four men playing on 10, the gold star goes to Latva, who pushes Apocalypse‘s energy level to the red-line and beyond, an absolute masterclass in grindcore drumming.

The opening salvo of “Pacify” and “Equality” sets the tone perfectly for Apocalypse’s world-ending fury, as most of this album operates at blistering tempo and with a nearly palpable violence, although Rotten Sound is skilled and smart enough to vary their attack just enough and just often enough to keep monotony at bay. After two straight rippers, “Sharing” starts out at full speed, but drops into a d-beat drive, and then further downshifts into a swinging sludgy groove – Rotten Sound is equally destructive at any speed, and Latva manages to keep that red-line intensity at full bore even as the tempo drops to merely “fast” from “holygoddamnthat’sfast.” Even though Apocalypse’s defining trait (and it’s greatest strength) is that vicious blasting spark, it’s often those breaks that provide hooks – the punky parts of “Suburban Bliss,” another swaggering middle-8 in “Digital Bliss,” the sheer skullsmashing swing of “Fight Back,” the closing hardcore beatdown of “Inflation”… Catch and release, push and pull, build up and tear down, rinse, repeat, and scream.

Rotten Sound has been making exceptional grindcore for decades – that’s no big secret. While the previous few releases have certainly held their own, neither Cursed nor the tandem of Abuse To Suffer and its inverse-titled companion truly challenged Murderworks or Exit for the top spot in the band’s catalog. Time will tell if this one does, but in the immediate aftermath, it’s clear that, through the power of sheer conviction and nearly inhuman energy levels, Apocalypse pushes Rotten Sound back towards their own peak. It’s an absolute rager of a record, largely due to an overwhelming abundance of two key factors. Which is to say this:

It is fast and angry. It is fast and angry. It is fast and angry. Apocalypse is perfect and ugly and pissed-off and beautiful and I cannot stop listening to it; it’s a no-question year-end list entry and one of the strongest grindcore outings in recent memory.

Posted by Andrew Edmunds

Last Rites Co-Owner; Senior Editor; born in the cemetery, under the sign of the MOOOOOOON...

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