Review: Rotten Sound ‘Apocalypse’

By their own admission, Finland’s biggest grindcore exports have been a tad tardy getting album number eight out of the gates, but pressing plant and Covid delays notwithstanding, it’s here at last, over a year after it was finished. That said, it’s clear they’ve taken their time, engaging in pre-production, fine-tuning and preparation to ensure the album makes a lasting statement.

Rotten Sound 'Apocalypse'
Rotten Sound ‘Apocalypse’ Artwork

And make one it certainly does. The inappropriately named Pacify kicks things off, literally blasting out of the speakers with vocalist/co-founder Keijo Niinimaa’s screaming, pent-up aggression channelling the primal rage of a band that hasn’t recorded anything for seven years. Just over forty seconds later and Equality kicks in – rounding out a devastating one-two punch that is everything I love about grindcore.

Pushing the two-minute mark, Sharing is something of an epic and it’s the first time that the band’s brutal low-end barges into full view, with a slow, heavy Entombed-esque groove which takes up the majority of the song’s length. The title track, Apocalypse, soon picks things up again, with some gloriously speedy stick-work from Sami Latva throughout. Suburban Bliss is next, with a meaty d-beat that has circle pit written all over it. The album’s powerful production is evident from the first track, but I especially noticed it here, with a super-clean drum mix allowing the toms to cut through to brilliant effect.

Too many tracks and grindcore albums can become a bit much and lose their impact; too few tracks and the listener is often left feeling short-changed. Comprising eighteen tracks and lasting a little under twenty-one minutes though, Apocalypse is just right. It’s a well-paced and focussed album but has enough variety to keep any extreme music fan interested. Case in point is Nothingness. At just twenty-six seconds, it’s the shortest song on the album but it still manages to produce a glorious mini-groove, while Ownership is another track with an irresistible beat-down. Empowered keeps things interesting, veering from d-Beat, to up-tempo then on to a blast section, before another of the album’s groove sections arrives, driven along by one of Mika Aalto’s masterful riffs and peppered with lightning drum fills.

a locked-in performance full of power and rage that leaves us lying on the floor, gasping for breath and wondering what just happened…

I’ve always appreciated grindcore when it’s bassy and gut-churning. It’s a counter-point to the high-end vocals and lends some oft-needed bottom end to the whole thing. It’s something Rotten Sound pull off well and I’ve been with them on and off since their Psychotic Veterinarian 7”. Daft animal noises aside, it was certainly a record that impressed me back then with its power. Fast forward twenty-five years and it’s not that Rotten Sound have done anything vastly different to what they’ve done on past releases. What they have done though, is consciously trim the fat. At times on past records, they’ve veered towards death/grind territory or got a tad preoccupied with slow sections, which lessened the impact of their music somewhat, but not here.

I know I’ve mentioned the bass already in this review but it’s an instrument that doesn’t always get a fair shout in grindcore mixes, either live or studio, but it’s loud and proud here with newest addition Matti Raappana not just underpinning everything but really driving it along. He contributes a fair amount of backing vocals too, which only adds further to the record’s overall intensity.

Inflation closes the album with a literal blast, summing up all the anger and frustration of Covid-induced lockdown by distilling it into a locked-in performance full of power and rage that leaves us lying on the floor, gasping for breath and wondering what just happened.

Label: Season Of Mist
Band Links: Official | Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Simon Brotherton