Apocalypse by Rotten SoundRelease date: March 15, 2023
Label: Season Of Mist
“Darkness surrounds us / There is no future / Everyone will die / Apocalypse will come.” If ever there were lyrics that could encapsulate the spirit of an entire album, the title track of Rotten Sound’s first album in seven years has it locked down. Steamrolling through 18 songs in just over 21 minutes, it’s the shortest album of their career but there’s a good reason for that. You see, there is no fat here, just the calory-burning energy of pure, focused rage. From climate change deniers to sensationalist journalists, they choose their targets and attack with the ferocity of the righteous, a gauntlet of vitriol that is so ugly but feels so very right.
It’s something of a misrepresentation to say that Apocalypse contains eighteen songs as given how densely packed and utterly breathless every second of this album is, at times it feels like they’ve crammed more ideas than some bands can come up with into their careers. Every riff, each shift where the brakes slam on a ragged d-beat flurry and drops into a groove that will have you kicking off a circle pit in your living room (or garden, if your neighbours fancy joining in), delivers the same visceral impact. It’s old-school without being derivative and the nods to grindcore’s punk roots shine through, especially when it comes to Sami Latva’s relentless drumming, tight enough to keep up with Mika Aalto’s jackhammer riffs but with a loose, arrogant swagger to his flow.
Though the basswork of new recruit Matti Raappana is formidable, particularly on cuts like ‘Denialist’ when the pace can let up just enough for him to really throw his weight into the mix, it’s his vocal contributions that feel like his greatest gift to the band’s long-established sound. He provides a lower, gravelly counterbalance to Keijo Niinimaa’s feral yowls, and given that these songs see Niinimaa at his most vicious, operating with such abandon that you can almost hear his vocal cords being shredded by the strain, having that additional voice to play off, even if it is often just to echo the more salient points, gives Apocalypse a newfound sense of depth.
On the whole, this record feels like the output of a band who aren’t looking to make friends or to convert the undecided. It’s lean and aggressive and as so much of the world shifts to the right their anger feels sincere and, most of all, justified; there’s no elitism, just a desire to play fast and loud and to make their voices heard. If you’ve listened to Rotten Sound at all in the past 30 years, Apocalypse will feel like an old comrade in arms dragging you back into the fray.