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As 'Marasmus', a long-awaited and -yearned release from Belgian Death/Grinders Leng Tch'e, was released, the critics varied, but most of them agreed in the stupid opinion that this band went to far, accusing the band to have gone totally over to Death Metal and gotten mainstream. I can only say "FUCK YOU!" to anybody who critisizes this releases without having heard the previous releases, but stating that they sold out to Relapse. Everyone who listened to Leng Tch'e from 'Death By A Thousand Cuts' to 'The Process of Elimination' noticed the huge progress of the band, evolving from a pounding Gore/Grind into a groovey Death/Grind band that still needs to be topped. Since I listened to this CD from it's release a thousand times, this review will be "short", only displaying why this CD tops anything else released this year, and all previous Leng Tch'e releases.
Leng Tch'e simply went a few steps higher, adding slighly more Death Metal to their style, Rock solos, Hardcore breaks, ensludged bowel movement and utterly crazy melodies. You will wonder how they fucking manage to produce so many great songs, you will scratch your head and beat it with your shoes, just to come to the conclusion that this band simply does what they do best - write first class Death/Grind, pure entertainment. Almost every song on this release hits the top, almost every song is a goddamn hit. my favorite tracks are: "1-800-Apathy", "Tightrope Propaganda", "Tainted Righteousness", "Marasmus","Confluence of Consumers", "Abstained" and "Trauma and Scourge". This release just bursts with catchy riffs and melodies, even sing-along choruses and memorable parts. What makes this releases special is that you can pick out favorite songs after a few listenings. It just comes up with tracks that you won't get out of your head for a long time. "1-800-Apathy" is such a song. It's fancy at moments, giving the catchiness more depth. Leng Tch'e didn't invent catchy Grindcore, but they do a hellova good job in it. When I heard the Split with Warscars, I was somewhat of disappointed as I expected something that would throw me off my feet. I just couldn't get into Leng Tch'e.s side of the Split. The weird thing was, half of the songs are on 'Marasmus'. This shows what a good production and mastering can do to a band.
Their progress is unseen in the Grindcore genre, and they are continuing to do better. Maybe the singing to Relapse was the best thing these guys could have ever done. They released two of the best CD's I ever heard in Extreme Metal. And that's why I don't understand those who don't like this band, and are not full of praise for them. They praise fucking Decapitated, fucking Arch Enemy, simply bands that are full of shit and 'copy/paste' rip-offs. It's complete and utter bullshit to even notice these bands in the same review as Leng Tch'e, as da Leng has more originality in Boris' facial hair than all these bands in their hair altogether. I will just complete this review with the conclusion that Leng Tch'e have done a great job with 'Marasmus' and I hope the next release will be just in their way. Every opinion on this band other than praising is just bullshit. Leng Tch'e fucking rules.
I never entirely understood the fascination with this band. While reasonably good, Leng Tch'e always seemed like a second-stringer in the modern grindcore world, behind more notable artists such as Nasum. Apparently others disagree, what with the band being snapped up by Relapse Records in time for 2005's 'The Process Of Elimination'. Perhaps because of this, their sound has fully moved into death/grind territory, as opposed to the pure grindcore of old.
'Marasmus' is a highly varied album. In tempo, yes, but also taking dramatic swings of style, from grindcore to death metal to strange rock or stoner passages. And honestly, the vast majority of these parts work to some degree; there are few genuine screwups on here (the only one that comes to mind is the brain-numbing last half of 'Divine Collapse'). Even some of the more subtly melodic portions are effective, like on closer 'Trauma And Scourge'. Of course, the most effective music on here, just like it always was, is when it's full-on grinding madness. The strength of compact, brutal songs like 'Lucid Denial' is great, and an album full of these would have been perfect. One minute, a trillion riffs, and no bullshit.
Maybe the 'one minute' part of that statement is the most telling. 'Marasmus' is way, way, way too long for the ideas it have. The forty minute running time could have been easily cut in half by removing the back eight tracks (except for the closer). The album starts very strong on songs like 'Tightrope Propaganda', but really begins to lose steam and collapse under its own weight right around 'The White Noise', where all the riffs start to sound the same and the song structure becomes hopelessly predictable. This is in part due to an increasing level of experimentation as the LP moves along: much more of the rocky material occurs in the second half, and it isn't nearly as good as the brutal first.
All the instrumentation here is good, but its effectiveness gets somewhat diminished by the extremely flat production (despite all the bass drops). However, one of the main components that really takes away from the music as a whole is the vocals. Highly reminiscent of the vocals on newer Aborted (maybe it's a Belgian thing), they seem far too metalcore and controlled for this music. While the unhinged screaming of earlier albums was a derided feature by many, I always thought it added to the chaotic style of the music. I suppose that this singing 'fits' more with a greater hardcore influence (breakdowns of sorts are present on nearly every song), but they just don't seem to do the band justice.
If this album was shaved down to a twenty minute EP, there's no doubt it would be very good. Unfortunately, due to the bloated track listing and lack of vision, this ends up being merely average. Leng Tch'e fans will of course get it, but the rest of us will probably pass it up in favor of another album. Not painful to listen to; just sort of clumsy.
(Originally written for www.grindingtheapparatus.net)