Some time after the grindcore spewing fun of LENG TCH'E's Relapse Records debut, "The Process of Elimination", the Belgian quintet lost its edge. After the aptly described razor grind of that album with its off-the-rails craziness and the dashes of tough, southern-tinged grooves, it is a disappointment to hear the banding playing it safer and much more death metal-oriented on "Marasmus". If LENG TCH'E was a basketball team, I'd say they came out flat on this one. That does not mean that "Marasmus" doesn't have its moments or is outright poor in delivery and aural violence on any of the tracks, but only that the mix of dangerous calamity and that always zany appeal has been replaced by a safer mix of grind and death metal. The end result is an album that sounds sluggish.
The production, featuring Fredrik Nordström's mix and a mastering job from the omnipresent Alan Douches, is crisp, clean, and thick to a fault. For most other albums, it would work wonders in beefing up the sound, but for what is supposed to be a gnarly grind act like LENG TCH'E it does more to soften jagged edges and almost tame the beast. There is still plenty of grinding goodness to be found and there is nothing that reeks to high heaven of cow dung. Drummer Sven De Caluwé's (ABORTED) vocals are still among the best in the business and his approach often pumps up some of the more lackluster parts, particularly during those moments when the tempo is slowed. The groove parts do not work nearly as well as they do on "The Process of Elimination", mainly in that some of the momentum is lost, even when the segments are kept brief.
In the final analysis, "Marasmus" suffers because it follows a grand effort in "The Process of Elimination" and because of the smoothing of edges. It is not even a case of LENG TCH'E making a bad album, simply that several songs that should rattle the hell out of the unsuspecting listener instead fall closer to the ho-hum side of the line. What happened to the danger? Where is the psychosis? Chances are I'll probably bust this one out on occasion because of the still better than average performance…but unfortunately, only on occasion.