REVIEW: Rotten Sound - Species at War

Genre: Grindcore/Death Metal
Label: Relapse/Season of Mist
Date of Release: January 18, 2013


Finland has gained a large reputation of being the hometown of many and highly famed groups associated with the melodic, gothic, and black metal genres. Despite this, however, quartet Rotten Sound is one of the few bands of that nationality that crash their way through this mold, being one of the greatest icons of grindcore along with bands such as Napalm Death and Blockheads. After this group had formed back in 1993 in Vaasa, a large arsenal of some of the most unrefined yet brutal grindcore records ever to reach and mangle passersby’s ears was unleashed, including “Murderworks” in 2002 and “Cursed” in 2009. As a result of the band’s extensive collection, Rotten Sound, hence the name, became one of the greatest representations of one of the most abrasive subgenres of metal. Now, early in 2013, the legendary quartet decided to give their fans a quick dose of their brutality in the six-tracked EP “Species at War.” Lasting for less than ten minutes, Finland’s finest grinders deliver a swift yet brutal punch to the face for old fans and newcomers alike.

As usual, Rotten Sound storms through listeners’ eardrums through their traditional grindcore assault in “Species at War.” Tortured screamed vocals function with the raw, buzzsaw-like guitar shreds and riffs to tear away the fabric of space to create an incredibly violent and unrelenting atmosphere, while the drums continue to pummel and mutilate with wildly faster and destructively slower passages. The sound production also sticks to the band’s old, gritty roots, giving the tracks a very distorted and unrefined tone to it. This is to the point where any newcomers to the group’s musical massacre could swear that this record was from the 80’s or 90’s, which thus also gives this EP a somewhat nostalgic feel, appealing to the older generation of metal. Overall, the musicianship and production are nicely done, as always. As for the music itself, “Species at War” aims for the band’s typical yet rigid onslaught of grindcore. It’s distributed into six small doses, which each never reach up to two minutes in length. However, this is one of the album’s stronger points, because the brutality is more concentrated, leaving much more of an impact on listeners, leaving room for much more unkind violence in the record’s wake. Another positive point about this album is that it is quite dynamic, with the drumming acting as the framework tottering between rapid-blast and thunderously slow paces, keeping the listeners on their toes as to what will happen next. Nicely crafted and possessing great instrumentation, this EP is a reminder of why Rotten Sound is a vehement legend of grindcore.

“Species at War” has proven to be a nice, quick helping of Rotten Sound’s usual grindcore assault. It bears great musicianship, well-crafted and dynamic music, and raw and buzzy production to add to the record’s nostalgic value for the metal genre. There are, however, one rather major issues that this EP unfortunately carries on its back: There is nothing new that this record has to offer in terms of the band's sound. It’s practically your run-of-the-mill grindcore release, and, while the band is just sticking to its roots, the album does slightly come across as somewhat pointless. Being an EP, what “Species at War” should have acted as a bridge between some sort of progression or change in sound for the band as opposed to mere filler. In short, if you miss this EP somehow, you're not missing anything crucial. Nonetheless, this EP is well-built, and, once again, it reiterates, or introduces to its audience, why Rotten Sound has been highly regarded to as one of the most prominent and violent bands ever to symbolize its genre. Loyal and diehard fans of this quartet will definitely be toppling each other to get their hands on this piece of musical turbulence. Anyone just opening their doors to the genre will also experience a few great first steps into the wonderful yet gruesome world of grindcore. With “Species at War,” Rotten Sound remains on its throne as one of the iconic kings of its genre.

Score: 7.5/10 (Solid+)