CF98 - Rotten To The Core (Cover Artwork)


Rotten To The Core (2019)

Speedsound Records

Prior to the release of their 5th full-length, 2017’s Story Makers, CF98 went through the biggest transformations of their 14 year career. Their lineup had been almost completely refreshed, with singer Karolina Duszkiewicz and guitarist Aleksander Domagalski being the only remaining original members. They also made the major decision to record the album completely in English, rather than their native Polish; something that even long-running fellow countrymen such as Dezerter, Schizma, and Moskwa, have never done. While nobody can knock the strong national pride of the Poles, it can be argued that such a transition opened a window of more universal exposure. The band has now done the same on the followup EP, Rotten To The Core.

“Thanks” kicks things off with one of the most musically aggressive tracks the band has ever done. Breakneck drums and thrashing guitars abound, while Duszkiewicz’s lyrics wax sentimental on keeping friendships strong, even in the face of newfound success. Hardcore ‘whoa’ing and an infectious melody give the backbone to “Ocean’s Lullaby”, an environmentalist anthem. Unlike other songs in the same vein, CF98 doesn’t simply take the “humans are bad” approach; they also acknowledge that nature is pissed: “The ocean wants to settle scores/For what we’ve destroyed... Time is running out/And there’s no place to hide/The wave’s will take us all alive”.

A classic pop-punk tale, “Navel Of the World” is a declaration of not fitting your parents expectations, and yeah, maybe being a little bit crazy too. But, this band isn’t 20 anymore. Hence, all of the anti- is well balanced with that 30’s wisdom, self awareness, and ambition. The title track is a lengthy and well-structured tear down of negative and abusive people (“You’re so effective/At bringing me and others down/And when they finally fall down/All the problems are their fault/Playing victim is your specialty”). Duszkiewicz fights back with her positivity, a lesson we can all learn these days. “Missing Part” wraps it up with a touching yet energetic ode to a lost loved one.

While their previous albums were at times a hodgepodge of experimentation in rock, pop, punk, and new wave (not to say they were bad, by any means), it seems that the post-reset version of CF98 is the most effective use of the bands strengths. Starting on Story Makers and very well followed up here on Rotten To The Core, the band’s blend of skate punk vocals atop crushing hardcore beats may not be groundbreaking in itself, but it is certainly a style they deserve to plant their flag near the top of.