*** Go to our YouTube channel in the link below to see the video review of this record in episode #28 of the SBR Album of the Week.
Finnish grindcore bruisers, Rotten Sound, are fortunate enough to look as ugly and as mean as they sound on record. This puts them at an advantage over other extreme metal contenders, where any form of flashy band aesthetic or individual vanity receives no tolerance in the scene. You know what you’ll get with a Rotten Sound record – hysterical rage, masculine hyperventilation, and drums that operate at the speed of light. Now on their sixth effort and first since 2016’s Abuse to Suffer, you could argue that the Finns have done as much as anybody to keep grindcore alive over the last decade. The music industry agrees, with Relapse Records and Spinefarm issuing records by them and Season of Mist releasing their latest studio recording.
Grindcore is more experimental that people think, with the likes of Discordance Axis, Fuck the Facts and modern-day Napalm Death proving that you can do a lot with so little. Rotten Sound are not one of these bands, and we’re no worse off for it, either. Apocalypse is a twenty-minute album of eighteen songs, all of them under two minutes, many of them less than one. You can approach most cuts by counting the riffs (often less than three) and admiring the manic frenzy of the drum fills. Opener, ‘Pacify’, will not pacify your agitated state of mind, but it’ll wake you out of your slumber and give you the cold shower you know is good for you. It’s not until track three (‘Sharing’) that you hear anything other than murderous rage operating at maximum speed and intensity. Here, the band treat us to a Pantera groove towards the end before launching a predictable – but no less thrilling – Napalm Death assault in the title track.
The main singles leading up to the release of Apocalypse are easy to identify. ‘Suburban Bliss’ and ‘Digital Bliss’ are two of the strongest blasts of crude noise wrapped in psychopathic anger. Listen to the former showcase the awesome stamina and imagination of drummer, Sami Latva. On the latter, they start with feedback shrills and a mean roar followed by a Tom G. Warrior death grunt. It’s a spectacular audio offensive for one minute and sixteen seconds of pure brutality.
Of course, disentangling the eighteen songs and remembering them for anything other than their Sturm und Drang is hard when the objective is to bury you alive with a road drill rather than a spade. The sludge metal affair of ‘Denialist’ will catch your attention for obvious reasons, just as the hardcore catharsis of ‘Empowered’ will leave you marvelling at the drum work once again. But the risk of including a couple of unremarkable songs is always high when the timings are so short. The likes of ‘Science’ and ‘Breach’ might be more effective if they appeared at the beginning of the record, but they leave no impression towards the end.
Seven years away has not dampened Rotten Sound’s enthusiasm for business as usual. In this case, it serves the artist and listener well enough to justify multiple spins.
Release Date: 31/03/2023
Record Label: Season of Mist
Standout tracks: Suburban Bliss; Digital Bliss; Denialist; Empowered
Suggested Further Listening: Human Cull – To Weep for Unconquered Worlds (2022), Nasum – Human 2.0 (2000), Skullshitter – Goat Claw (2022)