The Process of Elimination
omething about grindcore attracts the socially conscious, or at least the pissed-off-about-the-world kind. It takes a certain rage and/or absurdity to want to cram as much noise into as little time as possible, and Belgian grindcore outfit Leng Tch'e has plenty of both rage and absurdity. In The Process of Elimination, the band hones these aspects, with surprisingly digestible results.
The record label hypes the album as "some of the fastest and most extreme grind to emerge in years," but these tags better fit the band's first two albums. "Leng tch'e," or "ling chi," was an old form of Chinese torture in which small bits of flesh were cut from a victim over several days, sometimes with opium administered to prolong the agony. The appropriately titled Death by a Thousand Cuts introduced Leng Tch'e fully-formed, with jackhammering blastbeats, occasional hints of groove, and alternately misanthropic and puerile lyrics. 2003's Man Made Predator was more of the same, culminating with the memorably juvenile "T.P.," perhaps the only ode ever penned to Beavis and his Cornholio alter ego. While the performances were scorching, the relentlessness and the grunted/screamed vocals limited the album's appeal to all but grindcore fans.
The Process of Elimination showcases a newfound sense of dynamics in Leng Tch'e. Blasting grind now shares the stage equally with slower thrash and death metal, and the riffs are often catchy enough so that one can tell the songs apart (a perennial problem in grindcore). "Motogrinding" and "P.I.M.P." feature hooky, White Zombie-esque riffs, while "Glamourgirl Concubine" fluidly shifts through a brief blasting passage into a wickedly swinging groove worthy of Corrosion of Conformity. The vocals are more accessible, too, having mostly replaced the cookie monster aspect with a death growl, with occasional raspiness that recalls Lamb of God's Randy Blythe. The production is clean and huge, with tasteful electronic touches, such as the low-pass filters that begin "Patriotic Pleasure" and end "Another Hit Single." The performances are tight, the songs are short (24 in 33 minutes), and the unexpected result is that Leng Tch'e is both more listenable and heavier than ever.
While the lyrics here are unintelligible, they make great reading. The lyrics cover basically three topics: making fun of people, the metal scene, and politics. "Bobby-Joe's Slumber Party," "Fat Camp," and "Testosterone Collar" lampoon rednecks, fat people, and macho men, respectively, while "Don't Touch My Spandex" and "Scene Scenery" lambaste fashionistas in metal. But the political lyrics are serious, Leng Tche's most weighty stuff to date; "Derisive Conscience," "Patriotic Pleasure," and "Alliance of Blockheads" are strongly anti-Bush, while "Man's Inhumanity to Man" takes on fundamentalist Muslims and Christians alike. "Another Hit Single" laments hearing the same songs repeatedly on the radio at work, while "Schematic" is about the drudgery of work leading up to a scene like the album cover image, a blood-spattered, axe-wielding office worker presumably having just finished a murderous rampage through the cubicles.
Thankfully, Leng Tch'e slings axes of a different sort. The back cover photo depicts the band raising its guitars at a triumphant gig, and despite the often cynical lyrics, the album's increased accessibility hints at a desire to appeal to a larger audience. The album's first song, "The Fist of the Leng Tch'e," is curiously positive, and virtually a manifesto. In it, the band posits an escape from the daily grind with, well, another kind of grind:
This is the fucking fist
This is our outlet of anger, our escape from the routine
This is our reason to breathe, the embodiment of a dream
Revolt on all your senses, exclude all which makes numb
The revolution of music dressed in a grindcore coat
Let go of all the masses, the stress of mass consumption
The personal revolution, we're all here for the same cause
Subculture of a defunct world, alternative to the routine imposed