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Epitome of Grind! - 91%

junkyardgod, April 24th, 2011

With a career spanning nearly 20 years, Rotten Sound are a force to be reckoned with in the field of grindology. As much as I love grindcore in all its forms--good or bad, long or short, fast or slow--almost no band in the scene plays with as much heart and ingenuity as these Finnish grindologists. From their blisteringly fast less-than-a-minute songs to their sludgeified grind epics, every release offers up something new and refreshing and Cursed is far from an exception.

As usual, Cursed doesn't even give you a chance to take a breath before pummeling you with the opening lines of "Alone" and dragging you through tormented pits of depravation until the last chord of "Doomed" echoes in your speakers. Along the way they do let you stop and reorientate yourself momentarily, slowing the pace and delivering the goods at a down-tuned, doom-inspired discourse, but only for a second before it's back to beating you mercilessly with their aural assault. While they're not redefining the genre by any means, Rotten Sound are at the top of their game, and Cursed is one of their best albums yet.

What Rotten Sound have managed to do so well is what a lot of grindcore bands lack: write catchy and memorable songs. Songs like "Hollow", "Addict" and "Exploit" are almost upbeat in their catchiness, while still maintaining the ever-present face fucking heaviness that the band is known for. Even their most kinetic and powerful songs find a way to reel you in with a catchy, down tempo groove somewhere along the line, e.g. "Self" and "Power". What also stands out about the album is its diversity and cohesive structure. Very few grind bands are able to successfully write an arcing album, mainly staying the course of an ear-pummeling onslaught of blast beats and machine gun riffs. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for 30 straight minutes of in your face brutality, but it certainly is refreshing to hear some grind with a little "oomph" (hell, they even throw in a pseudo guitar solo in the middle of "Addict"). Songs like "Green" and "Machinery" are straight up, unrelenting grind, while "Declare" and "Terrified" invoke the tiniest bit of sludge that makes you wanna punch your way through a crowd of screaming babies. It is simply divine.

Topping out at just over 30 minutes (as any good grind record should), Cursed keeps you on your toes and guessing all the way through. Though Rotten Sound are certainly veterans of the genre, they amass an energy and integrity that speaks of a much younger and more vivacious group. 20 years and counting and they're still leading the pack. Not even Napalm Death can stake a claim to that these days.