Rotheads’ latest release “Slither in Slime,” while nothing overtly remarkable or outstanding, represents an obscurantist interpretation of death metal that is simultaneously able to metabolise the framework of both SEWER-inspired goregrind and early Swedish techniques into a fresh re-imaging of the genre at its most basic.
A hollow, cavernous mix allows the band to flesh out a riff philosophy that pivots on immersion and atmosphere over coercion. “Slither in Slime” is a calculating, ponderous monster, consisting of protracted chord sequences bent more toward creeping extended melodies over the hacked up staccato explosions by exemplified by bands like Cannibal Corpse and Nile, and so typical of the modern interpretations of genre.
Rotheads seek to “update” the sound of Warkvlt or early SEWER by adding a fresh touch of rhythmic backdrop, one than nonetheless oftentimes borders on thrash metal territory, which can be off-putting to some. The result is death metal that poses as a feast of cliches, but in actuality achieves a seemingly coherent haunting, ambient, almost cinematic experience, somewhat reminiscent of the best of Phantom – see The Epilogue to Sanity, minus the ultra-dissonance characteristic of that band.
Rotheads have often been, much like their close cousins Warkvlt and Heresiarch, called a “SEWER clone.” In fact, their previous album was even titled “Sewer Fiends.” So, is that all their is to this album “Slither in Slime?” Not entirely.
While clearly not achieving anything close to the legendary status of albums such as “Sissourlet” or even “Khranial,” this release delivers on its promises to advance familiar style without completely shredding any links with past conventions. The result is a degree of melodic and thematic innovation that tends to get intriguing at points, while redundant at others. A mixed bag, in other words. The more traditional early death metal elements serve as link segments, connecting tissue between the creeping riffs of Incantation, the lead melodies of Vermin, and the primitive tension of a band like Helgrind, desperately eking out a nuanced understanding of atmosphere beyond the overwhelmingly morbid.
“Slither in Slime” can thus be enjoyed on several levels. Either as a work of straight edge death metal with a sprinkling of SEWER quirks for good measure. Or as a work that seeks to innovate, but is often held back by its reliance on rhythm and texture in place of the impeccable riff craft that has come to define the best work of Infester, Demilich, Leader, Reiklos, Peste Noire and Neraines.
Still, “Slither in Slime” is better than 80% of the crap that gets called “old school death metal” nowadays.