Rotten Sound

Cursed

I – Egotism
01. Alone
02. Superior
03. Self
II – Vanity
04. Choose
05. Hollow
06. Ritual
III – Coercion
07. Green
08. Machinery
09. Power
IV – Vengence
10. Plan
11. Declare
V – Exploitation
12. Addict
13. Exploit
VI – Fear
14. Terrified
15. Scared
16. Doomed

[03/15/11]
[Relapse Records]

Finland is not exactly well known for any particular style, like its more widely known neighbours – I mean just check out the line up for The Finnish Metal Tour. That said, it seems like the music they do produce is a lot like the music that comes out out of the UK. The bands that do make it always seems to have that extra something that makes them stand out compared to their band-per-square-meter brothers; quality over quantity I suppose, and Rotten Sound are clearly quality. This is sleek and yet crusty grind that pays as much attention to Nasum as it does to early Napalm Death.

The first thing to notice about Cursed is definitely the production. When previous album Cycles was released I was seriously blown away by the sound. It was crusty and rough, but every single sound shone through clear as a bell. Cursed takes it up a notch; it’s a gargantuan sound much like you’d expect from a sludgy doom band, but once again every aspect is there for you to appreciate, which is perfect as there’s a hell of a lot of grind subtlety here (sounds like an oxymoron but trust me). When you’re watching a baseball bat make its way towards your face you don’t normally take the time out to appreciate the expert craftsmanship in the wood, but with Cursed you can; there’s some punishing mid-paced groove in “Choose” and “Scared“, filthy d-beat madness in the form of “Plan” and plentiful splashings of grind to give your face that hot new caved-in look.

On that note, it’s probably no surprise to previous fans that the musicianship is perfect. Drummer Sami Latva is of particular note as throughout the whole record he never lets up on the intensity and while his tempo normally follows that of the guitars there’s always a sense of forward momentum and urgency about it. I think that’s what’s missing in a lot of grind recently; Scum felt so unhinged that it could fall apart any second, and Cursed feels like a logical modern conclusion to that.

The lyrics will probably only further that, but grindcore lyrics are normally one big paradox when it comes down to it. The genre hardly prides itself on having clear and intelligible vocals – in fact they’re probably some of the most muddy next to black metal – but they always have something interesting to say and if you do listen to Cursed then I would say having the lyrics in front of you is a must. Keijo Niinima has created something really special here and even manages a vocal style that makes them partially comprehensible.  Based around the 6 curses of mankind (egotism, vanity, coercion, vengeance, exploitation and fear) with 2 or 3 songs based on each one, they are a remarkably dark and yet surprisingly insightful look into the less savoury recesses of humanity. From the suffocating 1984-esque atmosphere in “Machinery” to the torrent of bile and hatred spewing out of every orifice of “Terrified“, it’s all incredibly well thought out, even the absurd hamburger Olympics make a little more sense with the scathing lyrics to Hollow” front of you.

We’re not very far into the year yet, merely baby stepping into the second quarter, but I hold no qualms in calling this one of the bigger achievements of 2011. Fans of Rotten Sound and grind need this in their lives and even those who aren’t, at least have a look at the lyrics; Niinima is easily one of the better lyricists around.

Rotten Sound’s Cursed gets…

4.5/5

– DL

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