Reviewed by Leo Kindred
That’s the first thing to say about this. What the hell?
Having had to get up at 7am on a Saturday (I simply had no idea there even WAS a Today programme on a Saturday!) I have journeyed long, hard, and sleepily from afar for a grind gig at this unseasonably, unreasonably early hour of just after 1pm on a Saturday. For a grind gig. At 1pm.
What. The. HELL?
Despite the awkward timing of a matinée start the turn out in the upstairs rooms of the Library, a Scream bar up near the university, is pretty high.
Formally a genuine library, today delivers a double-whammy of disappointment for whoever originally designed the building, as surely the only thing possibly more un-keeping with a quiet, studious atmosphere, other than students being sick outside on ultra-cheap cocktail deals, is blasting death-grind.
Enabler thus begin to an attentive and sizeable crowd (sizeable for the space available anyway) with a rough-edged and angry sound, a blend of grizzled metal and hardcore punk; not too far away from going all Converge on you. “Pretty good” in other words. The Milwaukee quartet deliver infectious blow after blow of grainy aggression with all the assurance of pros. This despite the noticeable awkward – if mostly polite – silence in between tracks, evoking shades of the building’s former purpose, but probably having more to do with the time of day taking a toll on enthusiasm.
An outro riff the size of a cathedral plummets down on the assembled to round things off for Enabler, a solid name now in my mind for future reference, filed under bands that don’t suck.
Sweden’s Martyrdöd I however had filed somewhere under “Swedish, probably sounds like Skitsystem”, which turns out to be only part-way true. Truer in fact is their closeness in sound to front-man guitarist Mikael Kjellman’s sort of 70’s- porno drug dealer appearance. Rocking a leather waistcoat (with no shirt) and long lank hair he more closely reminds of that era, and the performance begins slowly as an almost Led Zeppelin sound.
Before long though the blackened crust does hit and some rowdy punks get things moving, with possibly more energy than the brooding tone would suggest was necessary. The classic rock sound seems to mesh oddly with their crust tendencies and black metal overtones, but it clearly pleases a sizeable portion of the crowd no end, as fist –pumping beings to pop up all around the stage.
The rhythm section stays faithful to the D-beat punk energy most of the way, and by the end of the set the dedicated are more than pleased, still demanding more as they take their leave.
Rotten Sound put paid to any afternoon lacklustre once and for all. Grindcore can be done quite badly, quite easily but with Rotten Sound you realise you’re in safe hands almost instantly, although safe is hard to reconcile with a band who have such an assault on the ears as their trademark.
Being in the vicinity of Rotten Sound playing is nothing short of hearing a bomb going off. They’re all energy, all speed, and the 1 minute masterpieces start suddenly and keep coming. Drumming and guitars at break neck speed, only hauling off to deliver weighty mid-paced strikes before blustering back in again at vertebrae –cracking tempo moments later whilst the vocals cut like a surgical knife across the ungodly din. After a time it begins to feel like having your head shoved in a furnace.
Despite the viciousness there’s a good-times vibe, mostly for the utter incredulously devastating sound, but part-made by vocalist Keijo Niinimaa, who gives humour to otherwise banal exclamations in his dead-pan Finnish accent that makes him sound like he’s just matter-of-factly stating things (my favourite being, “we are bad people”).
He towers on the small stage and raises a fist in the midst of the utter devastation of blast beats and chainsaw riffs from Rotten Sound’s short sharp shock deathgrind repertoire as the small space becomes littered with people collectively going ape, running into each other, stage diving, and, in one dreadlocked guy’s case, being lifted vertically to chest height and spun around by two other gig-goers like a human clock hand. “Ha-ha, stoner spin”, says Keijo in his Arnie voice.
After an encore, during which Keijo delivers another gem (“we’ve got 3 more minutes? OK, that’s enough for 2 songs!”) the pulverising subsides and the momentous cacophony ends as suddenly as it sprang into life.
Never again will I doubt the possibility of matinee blast-beats as a viable gig option. It’s awesome fun and there’s still enough time to get afternoon tea afterwards!