(in feudal Japan) a wandering samurai who had no lord or master (daimyo). A samurai could become a ronin in several different ways: his master might die or fall from power or the samurai might lose his master's favor or patronage and be cast off.
Rotting Out’s 3rd full length, the aptly titled Ronin, marks the return of the San Pedro crew. A 4-year absence marred by incarceration, injury, and ignominy, put a question mark on the band’s future – a question that Walter Delgado and co answered with fierce certainty.
Their sound has always been a fine blend of ferocity and cadence; this record is no exception. What is immediately apparent is that Walter’s voice is even angrier on this effort (and understandably so). His rabid snarl often boils over into chaos - a wood chipper fueled by napalm and nails scored by thick grooves and breakdowns that will have you two-stepping and checking for missing teeth at the same time. SoCal HXC at its finest.
Ronin is likely the most introspective work of their catalog, fueled by the urban experience – particularly Delgado’s. Upbringing, poverty, and despair are all prominently featured throughout this narrative. But so is accountability, honesty, and disdain for anyone who would attempt to judge someone at face-value.
With 10 tracks clocking in just under 25 minutes, Ronin is blistering and uncompromising. The production is slick where it needs to be and gritty when it matters most (Unforgiven, Reaper). Almost every song has an ear-worm chorus that burrows in for an extended stay. My favorite track changes with every listen (and I’m north of two dozen spins at this point), but – gun to my head, I’d have to go with Stones – the lyrics just resonate with me (Fuck you/And fuck your friends, too/And fuck everything you thought you knew/About me and what I’ve seen/And everything I’ve been through).
Ronin is a journey through a life that most folks haven’t lived. What makes it such a compelling offering is that it’s written in a universal language; one that makes seemingly alien experiences relatable, particularly to those who’ve not always had an easy go of things and have had to do things of which they’re not proud. This album is equal parts catharsis and redemption – if you’ve got something dark or painful in your past that you have yet to come to terms with, Ronin may very well help you do so.