Rotting Out – ‘Ronin’

By Tom Walsh

There tends to be a note of scepticism when a recently-reformed band releases new material. Will they be able to reclaim their mojo of their earlier years? Will they return with a completely new sound? Or will they produce something that makes you realise why it was an absolute tragedy they split in the first place?

For Los Angeles hardcore punks Rotting Out, the latter statement very much applies. ‘Ronin’, their first LP in seven years, grabs you by the throat and doesn’t relinquish in 25-or-so minutes of frantic, unapologetically loud and breakneck speed tracks. The intensity has been turned a notch and there is no sign of a loss of swagger from one of the more criminally underrated bands of the hardcore scene.

Front man Walter Delgado, fresh from a life-changing stint in prison, still possesses his signature growl, which takes a hold from the explosive opener ‘Vessel’. It sets the tone for a frenetic record that continues to take cues from contemporaries such as Suicidal Tendencies and the chaotic vocal stylings of Bad Brains.

For Delgado, ‘Ronin’ is an important healing process; something that has allowed him to plumb the depths of his psyche and release a few demons. Lead single ‘Stones’ has anger seeping out of every pore, backed by an almost thrash-punk tempo and with an expertly chugging chorus, acting as the call to arms.

There’s no time for any sense of respite during ‘Ronin’, with only brief moments of breathing space before crashing into the next song. The double header of ‘Reaper’ and ‘Prisoner’ are both heralded by a scream from Delgado, before the double time drum beats take over, leaving you gasping for air at the end.

‘Ronin’ is clearly a record that Delgado and Rotting Out have been carefully plotting since their comeback. It’s angry, it’s fierce, it’s deeply personal, and it’s simply a wild ride from start to end. Any concerns that the time away may have slowed the ferocity of Rotting Out are totally blown out of the water by the end of this record.

Rotting Out are back, and they want you to know about it.

TOM WALSH

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