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Finland, like most countries, has its mainstream, middle-of-the-road pop stars (people who sound like Celine Dion or Gloria Estefan singing in Finnish) as well as its musical extremists who cater to the underground; and rock doesn't get much more extreme and underground than Rotten Sound. In the '90s and 2000s, Rotten Sound has favored a brutally harsh, violent, angry, and ferocious approach to death metal/black metal and grindcore. There is nothing merciful about Rotten Sound's blistering albums, which have a very claustrophobic quality and give the listener no room to breath; when a Rotten Sound album is finished playing, one feels drained and exhausted. And while that mercilessly intense approach has earned Rotten Sound no mainstream acceptance, the band has enjoyed a small but extremely devoted cult following. Founded by guitarist Mika Aalto in Vaasa, Finland, in 1993, the band quickly earned a reputation for being one of the most intense bands on the Scandinavian death metal/grindcore scene. Rotten Sound -- whose early influences included Slayer, Napalm Death, Suicidal Tendencies, Entombed, and Carcass -- started recording in 1994, when the headbangers' debut single "Sick Bastard" came out on the Genet label. Subsequent releases included 1995's "Psychotic Veterinarian" on SOA, 1996's "Loosin' Face" on Anomie, and 1997's "Splitted Alive" on IDS. Under Pressure, Rotten Sound's first full-length album, was released by Repulse Records (a Spanish label) in 1998 and was followed by Drain (also on Repulse) in 1999. In the early 2000s, Rotten Sound signed with Necropolis' Deathvomit subsidiary, which released Still Psycho in 2000 and Murderworks in 2002. Over the years, Rotten Sound has had some personnel changes; in 2002, the band's lineup included founder Mika Aalto on guitar, vocalist Keijo Niinimaa on vocals, Mika Häkki (who replaced Pekka Ranta) on bass, and Kai Hahto on drums. In the early 2000s, all four of them preferred to go by one-letter nicknames: Niinimaa went by G, while Häkki called himself H, Aalto went by Q, and Hahto called himself K. ~ Alex Henderson