Review Summary: With blazing guitars and insane beatdown blastbeats, Rotten Sound delivers a surprisingly thoughtful album that still makes your ears bleed with heaviness.
You like coffee? There are all kinds of coffee drinks, involving lattes, americanos, macchiatos, so on and so forth. There's also a wonderful little coffee drink made from straight black coffee and however many shots of espresso mixed together; some call it a "red eye", others call it "a shot in the dark", there's no official name for it. But it hurts to drink. You can feel the caffeine coursing through your veins as you sip the darn thing. But you love it. You love it a lot. Such is the case with Finnish grindcore outfit Rotten Sound's album "Cursed."
The first thing that struck me about the album is its level of sheer intensity. It's 27 minutes of insane blastbeats, riffs that shred a million beats per minute, and crazy vocals, the combination equitable to both eardrums being forced through a lawn mower. The album revolves around Mika Aalto's insanely fast guitar work, and he proves himself a capable guitarist, not by means of technicality or mind-bending mathcore licks, but by just by the catchiness of his riffs ("Choose", "Ritual", "Power", for example). The drummer, Sami Latva, must have muscles, because he is constantly going nuts on the kit, blastbeating away or double-bassing the crap out of the music. Vocalist Keijo Miinimaa is a capable vocalist, utilizing a mid-range roar primarily, as well as a rare low growl. Although he is good, his range is fairly limited compared to others (such as Thomas from Mumakil). Bassist Kristian Toivainen, is the band's weakest link, due to inaudibility.
There really is no purpose trying to point out highlights or filler on this album, due to the inaccessibility of the genre, and its general uniformity of sound. However, there are moments of influence from other genres. For instance, there are times that the riffs sound almost have a southern twang to it, in songs such as "Addict" or "Exploit." The song "Declare" is worth mentioning as well, due to its seemingly black metal influence. Keijo's vocals are layered as he bellows "Human nature is drawn easily into bloody competition. Winning comes before all values we claim to follow gracefully. Competition is to be amplified into retribution by mixing religion With the need to compete." This brings to mind the vocal work of bands such as Anaal Nathrakh or The Axis Of Perdition.
Speaking of lyrics, these guys actually have some good lyrics, something not common in the genre, as to my knowledge. The words criticize the ruthlessness of capitalism in songs such as "Green", "Machinery" or "Alone": "Competing is the key. Defeating the weak is the way. Destroy all obstacles. Exterminate all other forms of life." They also criticize human nature (as aforementioned in "Declare"), and its many aspects, including solipsism in "Self" ("This is my universe, this is my throne."), material gain in "Choose" ("You are addicted to the pleasure of acquiring."), societal conformity and fake happiness in "Hollow" ("Enjoy the emptiness of fake happiness... slaves of society."), man's lust for power on "Power" ("Being in charge creates the illusion of superiority... Power is sex, domination is lust."), and the basic dissatisfaction and discontentment of humans in "Terrified" ("We are terrified to live, we are terrified to die."), as well as others.
As with the case of most grindcore, it is not for everyone, much like a "red eye" or a "shot in the dark" in coffee lingo. Most songs sound the same at first listen, plus the production value is a hit or miss, due to its extremely distorted and feedback-fueled approach, bringing to mind the likes of Eyehategod or Mastodon. I personally love it, because I think it adds a whole new dimension of insanity to the music.
Overall, Rotten Sound's album "Cursed" is frickin' heavy, and frickin' fast, but it comes along with harsh critiques on today's global society and insightful commentaries on the human condition. Rotten Sound has been at the game of grindcore for a long time (since 1993), and this album shows maturity and skill in a general sense. If you're looking for something to get a headache to, try out this "red eye", but don't burn your tongue; it's still hot. And don't you dare dilute it with cream!