Formed in 2014, Rotheads are a bunch of Romanian lads who are relatively new to the underground metal scene, although they initially operated as a stoner/doom metal band called Keeng Ra’at, whose material can be found on a Soundcloud account floating around the glorious inter-web!
*Incidentally, Keeng Ra’at were heavily based on the likes of Kyuss, Monster Magnet, Acrimony and Sleep and are, in their own right, an intriguing listen*
However, the band members decided they needed to get some good old school death metal out of their system, resulting in the recording of the Unfazed By Death EP in 2016. After its release, there was a reshuffle in the line-up that has now finally settled, accumulating in the release of their debut album, Sewer Fiends, out now on Memento Mori records.
Sewer Fiends throws the listener back into a 1991 time-warp, back to a time many scene-elders would argue were the ‘good old days’ of death metal, when the likes of Obituary, Deicide, Death and Morbid Angel ruled the roost. Listeners of a certain age will immediately feel right at home with Rotheads’ style of death metal, one that pays homage to the likes of Autopsy, Incantation, Grave, Asphyx and the murky soundscapes of Suffocation’s supreme Effigy Of The Forgotten.
With a production that emulates the Morrisound studios style of death metal recording – conveying a mix that is more orientated around a wall of heaviness and presence of guitars – the drums, at times, feel as if they’ve been deliberately dulled down, acting merely as a backbone to the ensemble that may have some listeners twiddling with the treble control. However, it can be argued that death metal never centred around high fidelity audiophile perfection and is probably a relatively small quibble for many listeners.
Tracks such as “Rats In The Walls” are a delight to listen to, featuring rumbling, fast-paced guitar work that comes across like a strange hybrid between Autopsy and Morbid Angel – with vocals to match – while “Psychic Leech” pulls the band back from their influences, with a flurry of spacey guitar solos that add a sense of melody to proceedings.
“Servants of the Rats” also deserves a mention, mixing ferocity and melody in equal measure while “From The Glowing Goo Rise” centres around pummelling drums and a low end chug that will, when turned up to neighbour antagonising levels, make your shelves, cupboards and windows vibrate in synchronisation!
Clocking in at just under 11 minutes, “The Mad Oracle of Sewerapolis” is the longest track on the album – which may sound overindulgent for a death metal band – but proves to be a perfect tour-de-force showcase for Rotheads! This track has it all, crushing almost doom metal sounding riffs and vintage Obituary-esque guitar solos, interlaced with faster paced sections. Finally, the album ends with “Dance of The Vermin” which works as a fitting closer, bringing up the pace of the album with a finely honed, almost thrash metal sounding attack that reminds the listener of vintage Incantation.
To conclude, Rotheads are a very capable band who offer a near-perfect homage to their death metal forefathers while managing to sound individual in their own right. A band worthy of note and well worth investigating if they happen to be the supporting act for a ‘bigger’ band in the future! 7.5/10