Leng Tch'e

It’s been damn near 7 years since Belgian grinders Leng Tch’e dropped their last full-length slab of death-y, crusty doomgrind, Hypomanic.  There hasn’t been an original member left in the band since 2007, although these maniacs have stayed relatively true to form sonically over the last 3 records.

For me, the filthy highpoint of the band’s discography remains ManMadePredator on the almighty Willowtip label with their debut Death by a 1,000 Cuts coming in a close second.  Those albums and their frantic fluctuations between churning detuned death metal, split personality psycho grind and riff-driven stoner blues were the musical equivalent of swallowing tacks and shitting out railroad spikes. It hurt going down and it hurt even more when memories of the cheese-grating riffs, murderous blast beats and dual high/low vocal carnage exacted revenge on the recall portions of your brain bowels.

Some cried SELLOUT whenever the band signed with Relapse but The Process of Elimination and Marasmus were sturdy albums in their own right with little to complain about (Marasmus being my personal favorite of the pair).  The razorgrinders still peddled a back alley brand of hyperblast grind with rumbling Floridian death metal malice, groovy doomed-out downshifts and crusty d-beat running rampant all running rampant.  The band’s latest 5-sense assault Razorgrind treads similar waters to the hefty, murky Hypomanic.  All of the key ingredients of the outfit’s sound are still present and clearly audible on opening blast-fest “Gundog Alliance;” ruthless gravity blasting, hydra headed vocal screams and growls, lurching sludgy hardcore grooves and so much studio-refined aggression are on hand to ensure your head will pop like a big pus-filled nose zit.

If anything though, these nutcases have traditionalized their song structures and for all of the blood-red anger contained within, they approach their songwriting and production with far less quirkiness than the past.  “Indomitable” is a standout track and a scattershot amalgamation of melodic, Swedish intoned crust punk guitar with d-beats to match as the vocals pair a ragged, throaty Lindberg scream to feral black metal screeches.  Later on death metal vocals, savage riff grind and unhinged blast beats go straight for a Napalm Death/Nasum style freakout before a chugging, staccato hardcore riff locks onto an instantly infecting groove (think Suffocation meets Meantime era Helmet).

A sludgy, mid-tempo nod undercuts every inch of “Cibus,” as even its most grinding speed bursts sport some variation of an ultra-catchy, Floridian death metal groove.  Vocalist Serge Kasongo veers into gruff, gravelly Lemmy-isms at the 35 second mark which provides a counterpoint of outright *GASP* singing to the doom-ridden, sludge-blasted power chords.  I’ve always felt that these guys shared a lot of common ground with Cephalic Carnage from the period of Exploiting Dysfunction to Anomalies and really that’s not a bad well from which to dip some influence out of.  Thick, dense DM guitar tonality cuts through combat-ready crust punk rhythms in “Spore’s” stop/start/riff/blast madness.  Even some vintage hardcore barks are mounted to the Lengs’ wall of trophy kills and the constant emphasis on meaty, riff-y, musical tangibility yields plenty of impact and memorability.  Beyond the midsection waypoint acerbic, minor key noise melodies and shouted vocals pack an entire Neurosis song vibe into about 30 seconds worth of material.

“AnarChristic” flies a 747 of well-produced, neck breaking grind through a crust punk sore hole with all of the vocal trimmings to match.  Jan Hallaert’s (he of deadly doom grinders Spleen, another band worth a look) relentless riffage and Olivier Coppens’ manic d-beat to blast fluxing are highlight of this point, click and kill track.  The maniacal “Stentor of Doom” goes along the same path of destruction but surgically implants mid-tempo sludgy grooves and melodic chord patterns into the framework as the vocals matches the instrumental moves.  Again the vocals place harmonic counterpoints in the back-ups that cast some industrial leaned influence into the band’s hyperkinetic lunacy.

The sprawling “Redundant” blasts hard in the early going but eventually dissipates into creeping, dissonant melodies where restraint trumps insanity.  Spoken growls, sloth slaying drum crumbles and eerie, heavily desiccated riffs further spiral this track downward into a sludgy abyss before it rises Phoenix-like into a staggering, grinding hardcore finale.  “Commitment Fail” was bred from the same rabid animal cage as its predecessor; going from a blast-heavy, hardcore raped grind with growled, screeched and shouted vocals to a stumbling sleaze hobble with controlled grooves, multi-tracked vocals (shouted, spoken, sung, growled) and mid-tempo rhythms overtaking the all-out audio A-bomb that exploded in every discernible direction for the track’s opening minute.  Switching things up, “The Red Pill” starts off slow with a melody-intensive, sludgy riff build-up wandering into the band’s patented razorgrind crosshairs.  Numerous tempo and riff structure swerves give this song a lot of variety and really stray from the band’s no frills grind roots.  It feels like a more chaotic interpretation of Cattlepress’ sole Hydrahead release, Hordes to Abolish the Divine.  “Species Path Extinction” has similar spiraling ambitious, going from a cavernous, death-ridden grind expanse to bullshit free punk rock fury to scraping Am-Rep textures.

If anything at this late stage in their career game, Leng Tch’e is taking numerous chances with their sound.  I like this experimentation on Razorgrind but depending on your level of purism, you may or may not be amused; just a fair warning.  If their work on the first record was more in line with Blood Duster, Volatile and Pungent Stench, the new stuff feels more akin to Antigama, Gadget, Soilent Green, Crowpath and Nasum circa Helvete and Shift.

Rounding out the album, “Guinea Swine” incorporates unexpected keyboard textures into lurching hardcore grooves and flattening mid-paced death metal heavy on the wobbly tom rolls, mid-tempo blasts and vocals that trade-off throaty yells, mid-range death growls and more traditional pukes.  The dirty “Cirrhosis” rifles off crusty d-beats one minute only to descend into sinking hardcore fury and limber grind theatrics the next, conjuring up a whirling dervish of broken glass insanity that sticks the ribs thanks to its many changes.  After a pummeling, doomed-out riff splatter in its opening moments, “I am the Vulture” quickly transitions to gnarly grind and death metal plunder thereafter.  A late game, pit inciting detuned hardcore groove duels with putrid growls and oblique spoken word during the track’s chugging endnote.  Closer “Magellanic Shrine” picks right up on the groove that “I am the Vulture” flew away with, slowly altering the lumbering hardcore into a noise-infected, looping guitar squalor.  Sleazy death metal grooves sometimes kick up the tempos but mostly this track bathes in the anguish of downtempo sludge spew, dissonant white-washed noise and nerve-fraying hardcore that rarely bursts into outward grind other than the all over the place vocal stylings.

Razorgrind sees Leng Tch’e toying with their well-established sound all across the board.  There’s plenty of grind and death metal nastiness included to please their cult fanbase and the groove that got ‘em there and made their tunes quite catchy is still present in spades.  Yet this album sees them expanding on themes introduced on the last 3 records while upping the ante as far as vast, ambitious songwriting is concerned.  It’s a damn solid record, not quite my favorite of their now lengthy discography, but one that was a welcome addition to my Leng Tch’e collection.  This record pairs very nicely (to my ears) with Crowpath’s Son of Sulphur for a dissonant, crusty n’ sludgy grind-weened afternoon full of quaking riffage, manic speed bursts and unruly vocal spite…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
January 16th, 2018


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