Rotten Sound

When Finland’s Rotten Sound release an album, it’s always with a certain level of expectation. Certainly musically and sonically, even aesthetics are key, but what always keeps new releases from them exciting isn’t just the consistency, it’s the small but important augmentations and advances to their blistering grind that always seem to elevate their craft to near doctorate-levels of refinement… well, as refined as grindcore can be.

With several albums under their belt, including a number of EPs, a compilation release and live record, Rotten Sound really started hitting their sweet spot with 2002’s Murderworks. Since then, they’ve continually made improvements to their craft, and their newest album, Cursed, continues that tradition. The first thing the listener will notice is a slightly different approach to the production of the album. Undoubtedly, the band hit an incredibly high mark with their previous album’s (Cycles) sonic balance, which elevated the ultra-tight and punchy qualities of 2003’s Exit with some added body and heavier low end to help carry the blastbeat train with extra heft. The production of Cursed did take some getting use to (mainly because my ears are highly critical in this arena); the crispy punch has been fine tuned a bit in favor of a modest buzz that sizzles, with the mid-range filled out a little more. I’m sure most fans will find this suits the band quite well. In fact, after repeated listens, I’d say this is the ideal production for Rotten Sound‘s style.

The album starts things off by tearing out of the gate post-haste (unlike the warm-up/”ease into it” type of tracks that intro’d the last two full-lengths) with the 59 second cutter “Alone”. This song sets the template for Rotten Sound‘s, err… sound, as a whole, all in under a minute – blast beats, distorted bass, d-beat breathers, and a chunky finish. From there the album, traverses their usual spectrum of speed and riffing. HOWEVER, the songs are sounding more deliberate instead of a pick-n-choose of blastbeats that match up with random riffs. This makes their scope of songwriting seem broader – it’s not just dictated by a cool riff or speed. The fourth cut on the record, “Choose”, is a prime example. Who’d have guessed Rotten Sound would craft a nearly two minute long song based around a simple but very catchy riff and knead it into variations of the original and ultimately into a singular piece of music? They go there, and it works.

The album clocks in at 27 minutes and 38 seconds, with 16 songs total. While I mentioned above that this album seems to be more balanced and deliberate in nature, I do think I’m liking the first half a bit more, but only slightly. That might have something to do with “Green” being one of the most savage and fast songs the band has ever written, along with the other highlights touched upon, and the shredding “Self” (for which a video was made). However, the second half has equally amazing parts; the dirge-y plodding of “Declare”, with it’s pitch-shifted vocals around 1:47 into the song, is deliciously evil. The way the deck is stacked with this album, the second half trades some of the speed in for more emphasis on vibe (ie. dark and a little more groovy), but just a bit, so no need to fret.

It seems blasphemous to call a grindcore band’s newest album an example of their maturation – like mentioned in the first paragraph it’s strange for a band within such an extreme style to exemplify refinement, but dammit if that isn’t the case with these guys! Those careful improvements to their sound and style definitely bring Nasum to mind, and that is a shining compliment and accomplishment for Rotten Sound to wear with pride.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Stacy Buchanan
February 28th, 2011


  1. Commented by: vugelnox

    this band is all class. Looking forward to getting my hands on this

  2. Commented by: Scott Alisoglu

    Extremely well written and informative review that reminded me to check out the album.

  3. Commented by: Reignman35

    Killer album. These guys are the kings of grind, plain and simple. Their guitars sound like a damn chainsaw… will be picking this one up as soon as I can find it.

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