Slither in Slime with Rotheads
Art: César Valladares, Mörtuus-Art
Layout: Skaðvaldur, FINAdesigns
Formed in 2014, Rotheads is a death metal act from Bucharest, Romania. The band has released two albums, a demo and a split, the latest release, titled Slither in Slime, being released in 2022 in CD format by the Spanish label Memento Mori and in 2023 in cassette tape format by the US label Rotted Life.
I’d describe Rotheads’ music as old-school death metal, meaning it’s written and performed in a classicist way that makes it sound like the original wave of death metal. It combines different style variations from the late 80s and early 90s. It might not sound like what the casual death metal listener would expect from a band describing itself as death metal, but it’s death metal to us. It takes a lot of inspiration from lesser-known acts and musical dead ends, and it tries to recreate the process of inventing death metal as a musical style or of expanding on the original sound at a time when there wasn’t yet a standard for what death metal is supposed to sound like.
With the new record, Slither in Slime, we tried to both expand on our sound and cement some of the sounds from previous releases as musical tropes specific to our sound. Some of the songs are older songs that we decided to finish for this album, and some are new songs we were working on when we decided to write a full-length album (Raúl from Memento Mori having asked us if we were working on one). We tried out a new recording studio for this release and a different way of recording the songs. We recorded our parts using backing tracks and click tracks instead of recording a live basic song structure that we would later use as a backing track. This helped keep the final songs closer to their rehearsed/written-down versions.
I’ve spent less time writing the lyrics than with the instrumental parts and arrangements. They are small tales of weird fiction told in a stream-of-thought style. Many are based on literature, and one is on newspaper articles.
I’d say many of the lyrics are inspired by interesting things I’ve read in books, but sometimes scenes in movies or video games. These are groups of words that together have a certain cool factor. I gathered a huge list of possible song titles/themes over the years. Sometimes something similar will come to me out of nowhere. After choosing a theme/title, I’ll try to see what flows out of me when I listen to the instrumental part and work with it until it makes sense. The instrumental part is similar. From time to time, I feel like playing the guitar, and I’ll record some of the riffs that come from jamming by myself. If any of them fit together, I’ll sit down and write arrangements and drum parts for these riffs until I have a basic song structure that I might work on later. After a time, I might get ideas on how to improve that basic song structure and apply this to songs written by the other guys in the band. Things like adding different chords here and there, or maybe writing some guitar leads, a bridge, varying the arrangements or harmonies.
The lyrical themes are connected to fantasy and escapism. To me, they seem based more on some dark fantasy theme rather than a horror one. In real life, it depends; I have multiple philosophical fixations, but there’s always some nihilism connecting them all. If life has no purpose or meaning and music is meaningful, I might as well spend my time doing what seems to work for me. It’s escapism, and I don’t feel like working against my nature if it’s not hurtful towards others. There might also be some anti-religious sentiments thrown in there, but mostly in jest; we’re not on some anti-religious crusade or anything. The last song, Dragged through Existence, touches on the darker side of nihilism: the futility of living a meaningless life.
I was already into aggressive electronic music and also some more melodic, but not in a happy way, music. Then someone got me a metal mixtape in school, and the music seemed just what I needed. After that, I asked for more metal music from other people until I had an internet connection and could explore on my own. It’s been a series of falling down a subgenre’s rabbit hole from then on. I’d consider it relevant that I discovered both Asphyx and Dystopia that I connected with at some point because I was already trying to write slow but dark and aggressive music. Then there was my passion for listening to old-school death metal demos. This probably started off listening to Sentenced’s early demos.
I wouldn’t call it mere entertainment, but I can’t deny the entertainment side of music either. There are multiple ways in which you can interact with music. We’ve just talked a lot about artworks, so music isn’t just about the sounds; there’s a lot of context to it. So you can look at artworks and read the lyrics while listening to the music, you could read an interview with the artists and better understand where they’re coming from and maybe connect to them as people. You could see the band play the music live and experience the performance part, or maybe experience how the music combines a crowd. So I think most people have some spiritual need and that music can fulfil in one way or another.