Rotheads – Sewer Fiends (2018) REVIEW

Well shit, if you’d asked me what a full-length from Rotheads would sound like I would have guessed it’d be some cave-thumping, rock-soloing, sloppy plop fest based on their 2016 demo ‘Unfazed By Death’. The sleepy ghost vocals and death/thrash riffing hinted at a band poised to bore the world to death with something that sounded too much like Incantation. On their debut full-length these Bucharest based Romanians soaked up the murky poo-water of their otherwise excellent demo and opted for a very 1991 Scandinavian death/thrash production sound. That huge burst of clarity exposes Rotheads’ hidden super power: The strong use of syrupy lead guitars, not unlike classic Finnish death metal a la ‘The Karelian Isthmus’, gives ‘Sewer Fiends’ a necro-psychedelic old school death metal feeling that reminds me of Alchemist‘s debut ‘Jar of Kingdom’ without overdoing the janky riffing.

“Rats in the Walls” is probably the best showcase for the distinct progress the band have made since their debut. It is certainly old school death metal tomfoolery at it’s core but they’re experimenting with the rabid death/thrash of long forgotten bands like Revenant and Psychopath while their sound resembles something closer to the weirdness of Incubator‘s ‘Symphonies of Spiritual Cannibalism’ or the unpredictable death/thrash of Exoto‘s under-appreciated ‘Carnival of Souls’ LP. Obscure death metal comparisons aside, what Rotheads do with their old school death metal sound is on par with the sort of weird cult gems you’ll find in anyone’s deep diving 90’s death metal collection. For someone like me who lives for that shit ‘Sewer Fiends’ is more than a dumb, sloppy tribute to nostalgia. It plows it’s own path through death metal’s graveyard with exceptional taste.

Calm down, though because the guitar playing is intentionally a little wobbly and savage with a sort of demo tape laziness creeping through. Whereas a band like Tomb Mold heap on mountains of rotten reverb, Rotheads sludge their ham-fists through otherwise highly conceived guitar work. If the playing isn’t intentionally raw and battered for the sake of capturing the intensity of  early 90’s death metal tape horror, it still sounds really cool. What better way to capture the ‘halfway there’ magic of albums like ‘Leprosy’ or Funebre‘s ‘Children of the Scorn’ than to struggle out a riff or two? I personally love it. The watery lead guitar flourishes and punkish beats all mesh into a solid swamp-thing of a death metal record. It might only appeal to dumbass old school buttheads like me who obsessively collect shit like ‘Sewer Fiends’ but for a band in their fourth year of existence this is already a banging good time worth several listens.

If I had to pick two songs to preview here I’d suggest three instead: “Rats in the Walls” is this epic rumbling thrall of a death/thrash wiggler that gives a great impression of Rotheads’ style. “Servants of the Unlight” has the buckwild old school death metal riffing that makes me drool like a dog lookin’ at a freshly opened bag of food. “The Mad Oracle of Seweropolis” shows what the band can do with an extended groove and it’s style reminds me of Gorement a bit. Well worth checking out if you’re not too much of a nitpicky tech-death dorkus.


Artist Rotheads
Type Album
Released February 22, 2018
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Animals not followers. 4.0/5.0

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