One of the most widely respected hardcore punk bands to come out of Finland; Rattus began life in 1978, in Vilppula. After a thirteen-year hiatus, between 1988 and 2001, the band began working again as a major concern and released two albums “Rattus” and “Uudet Piikit” in 2005 and 2007 respectively. Alongside outfits such as Terveet Kadet and Kaaos, Rattus were at the vanguard of Finnish punk and helped provide a template for the scene to develop. With a new vocalist Jopo Rantanen, 2013 sees the release of the mighty “Turta” (“numb” in English). Compared in some circles to the ferocity of bands such as Discharge, whom they cite as an influence, Rattus have the rage and the vitality to support that comparison, but somehow lack the menace. Hopefully this will not be misinterpreted as suggesting that Rattus lack street punk credentials, as this is most certainly not the case. Each one of the fourteen tracks here are an aural assault on the senses, which evokes an evolving scene at its’ most dangerous and exhilarating.
Essentially now Rantanen on guitar and vocals, V-P Hyvarinen on drums and Tomppa Marjamaki on bass, the trio format is utilised to blistering effect. From the opening torrent of ‘Uskoton’ to the closing furious bars of ‘Voimavara Viha’, “Turta” delivers precisely what an old school hardcore punk should be delivering, a twenty first century old school hardcore punk that sounds as fresh and relevant today as it did when the scene was in its infancy. The production techniques may have improved to the extent that each instrument is able to cut through the mix, but the spirit is still here in bucket loads of loose guitar riffs and furious percussion. The fact that the lyrics to these tunes will be indecipherable to anyone who is not fluent in their native tongue is irrelevant, as music speaks to anyone who is willing to listen, and the music on “Turta” is essential listening for anyone who is interested in genuine, no compromise, soulful music.
It would also be important to draw attention to the striking cover art by Irish artist Sean Fitzgerald. The imagery captures perfectly the atmosphere and significance of the record. The year 2013 has seen the band complete lengthy tours of North and South America, and they are scheduled to appear at the Tenth Annual Scumfest in the United Kingdom in May 2014. The years have certainly been kind to Rattus, and on the strength of the material on “Turta” it would be a particularly remiss review that would fail to suggest trying to see the band live in the very near future.