CD Review: Leng Tch'e - Marasmus
The first two Leng Tch'e albums are absolute must-haves for any fan of grindcore. Death by a Thousand Cuts and ManMadePredator were just plain crazy, spraying blastbeats, thrash grooves, death growls, high screams, and movie samples around like a meth head with a machine gun. 2005's The Process of Elimination had more polished production, but was still full of the Belgian band's trademark humor, poking fun at scenesters and red state America.
Thus, Marasmus is a disappointment. No lyrics came with the promo, but judging from the sound, the band has gotten much more serious. The grooves are measured and conservative, with none of the random whiplash tempo changes that used to smack listeners upside the head. The "grind" element is almost gone. Instead of balls-to-the-wall intensity, Leng Tch'e seems to have become just another death metal band, trudging through songs with limp half-speed parts that tempt the "-core" tag. Yes, there are blastbeats and death growls. No, they do not kick ass. Any of today's hungry deathcore upstarts could crush this record. This band sounds tired.
The sterile, over-compressed production is much to blame. Everything is clean, clear, and flat as a pancake. This Andy Sneap-style production trend has to stop. It works for Killswitch Engage, but a band like Leng Tch'e needs savage, dynamic production. Instead, the guitars are neatly tucked into the mix, the drums sound like plastic thuds, and the breakdowns don't breathe. This is a shame, as there are creative riffs here, especially near the end. But good riffs aren't good enough for grindcore. It requires sound that runs you over like a truck. This record is like an American sedan – safe, stodgy, and lifeless.