Rattus: Ihmiset On Sairaita 7” (Ann & Archie Records, 1985)
We recently nabbed a cool collection with lots of international hardcore and I made a big pile of “keepers” for myself… so big that I still feel kind of guilty about it. One of my favorites is this 1985 7” from Finland’s Rattus. Rattus is a special band to me because I got to see a few dates on their 2004 US tour and had an amazing time. While that personal connection is important, their records are incredible in their own right. They formed way back in 1978 and their early EPs are punky, catchy and fun, like a lot of other European and Scandinavian punk bands that formed in the Sex Pistols’ wake. However, when hardcore came out around, Rattus embraced it. After a string of singles and an LP, WC Räjähtää (which translates to something like “bathroom explosion” and features a memorable Pushead illustration of demons emerging from a toilet), Rattus expanded their lineup to a 4-piece. While guitarist Jake was and is a solid vocalist, there’s something about the raspy timbre of vocalist Annikki that does it for me. Besides the change in vocal sound, Rattus’s songs got faster, more complex, and more metallic, and their experience as players gave them a uniquely composed and technical sound.
Ihmiset On Sairaita features this 4-piece lineup, and while I’m fuzzy on the chronology, it may have been the first thing Annikki recorded with the band. While I love Rattus’s LPs from this period, Ihmiset On Sairaita is special in that it’s the only EP recorded with this lineup, and as is often the case with music this intense, it works better in a smaller, more digestible chunk. Even cooler is the fact that they play the three songs on the b-side as a medley, linking them with wild, out of control-sounding guitar solos. Hearing the band wander off on a Discharge-style guitar solo only to come back together and lock into step is thrilling.
While Finnish hardcore and punk records can get expensive, this one doesn’t tend to be too pricey. Alternatively, the tracks are available on the Brazilian pressing of the Uskonto On Vaara LP and many other LP and CD collections, so they shouldn’t be too hard to find. You might also recognize the first track, “Reaganin Joululanju,” from Maximumrocknroll’s Welcome to 1984 compilation. You can’t go wrong with any Rattus records you find, so if you see one, pick it up!