Rotheads – Slither in Slime Review

Are you anything like me–have you been lying awake at night, wondering who exactly is in Rotheads these days? Let’s go straight to the source! Here are the miscreants in question, weighing in on their comings and goings: “In the meantime, another guitarist joined the band, and the original bassist left and rejoined later on. The original drummer and vocalist also left the band in August of that year, and another drummer then joined, while the vocals have been henceforth handled by the original guitarist.” Got that?? Whoever is playing with these Romanian fopshockers nowadays–I think it might be me, there are some patches of lost time and odd credit card charges that I can’t account for–the band is back with second full-length Slither in Slime. Can these purveyors of sepulchral party jams build on the promise of their debut Sewer Fiends, or is this sophomore effort fated to sink back into the lightless depths of the Promo Sump?1

The Rotheads formula may have been tweaked, but this fetid draught retains its signature nose. Here are seven songs spanning forty-three minutes, each one chock-a-block with death riffs played at a tempo often verging on thrash. The band still has songwriting talent in spades, and a penchant for stretching that talent to the breaking point. The sprawling lead guitar lines intrigue in spots, but they also can make Rotheads feel like a death metal jam band. “Rats in the Walls” was the standout composition on Sewer Fiends. That song remains a ballsy exercise in metronome-flummoxing style, and it has its equal on Slither in Slime. “Gore Coffin” is the clear highlight, a fierce and catchy anthem grounded by stylish guitar licks. The principal influences remain the same–classic Finnish death metal and genre touchstones like early Asphyx and Autopsy. It all adds up to a rollicking good time that fails to withstand much scrutiny. Slither in Slime is well worth casual perusal, but if you were expecting a grand statement that moves the genre forward… well, my friend, in that case you and me are playing in the wrong band.

The adjustments on Slither in Slime are a mixed bag. Singer Spurcaciune is heavily drenched in reverb now, so it sounds like he’s howling from the depths of a cavern. I’m not a fan of this style, which turns the vocals into just another element in the mix–but your mileage might vary. The compositions are tighter, with relative restraint on display in the noodly sections. It’s a marginal improvement that could have been pursued to greater advantage. The loose groove that still defines Rotheads is big fun… until, inevitably, it isn’t, and you’re stuck listening to the umpteenth variation on the same riff.

Say this for Rotheads: the foursome from Bucharest knows their way around a catchy hook. The riffs on Slither in Slime are copious and scented with just the right notes of decay. Herein lies a garden of necrophiliac headbanging delight. You won’t get through any of these seven tunes without nodding along, but lead single “Gut Mauled” and “Lost in the Cemetery Gardens” are especially contagious. The band has taken a step up in the production department this time out; Slither in Slime is distinguished by a potent mix that leaves space for Birsatan’s bass to whip the rhythm section into submission.

Rotheads sounds like it should be the name of a fandom rather than the name of a band, and that vibe of earnest enthusiasm suits this outfit. Their promo copy may be heavy on genre buzzwords like “filthy,” “massive,” and “fuck,” but these plague rats aren’t fooling anybody. They’re having a blast, and you’re invited to the party, too. It might not be the Met Gala, but there’s something to be said for hanging out with your dodgiest friends at a dive bar. The event’s never going to be an unqualified success–Maddog will probably hit you up for money, and it only gets worse from there–but it beats staying home and reading the collected works of William Makepeace Thackery. Slither in Slime is a pedestrian Thursday night that aspires to be an epic Friday. I may have been hoping for a step forward instead of this running in place, but I’m still not mad about what I got.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Memento Mori Records
Releases Worldwide: July 25, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. AMG Industries rated Sewer Fiends 3.0, the Quasi-Official Score of Promise.
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