In Dante’s Inferno, the second circle begins the proper punishment of Hell, a place where “no thing gleams.” It is reserved for those overcome with Lust, where carnal appetites hold sway over reason. In Nine Circles, it’s where we do shorter reviews of new (ish) albums that share a common theme.
For this edition of Second Circle we are taking a look at Leng Tche‘s Razorgrind and a Split between BLK OPS and Cave Bastard. A perfect fit for a Monday so follow me to get your grind on.
It’s amazing to me that Belgium’s Leng Tch’e have been around for sixteen years now. I can still, vividly, remember picking up their debut Death By a Thousand Cuts and being amazed at how well they combined the ferocious speed of grindcore with the brutality of death metal and then threw shades of metalcore in the mix. Furthermore, I was amazed that it worked as well as it did. Follow up ManMadePredator had the same appeal but on The Process of Elimination they fell into a lull. Not bad per se but not good either and definitely nothing to remember after a few cursory listens which was totally different than what I was accustomed to. Two more full lengths would prove the same and here we are with their sixth full length Razorgrind, which just happens to be what they self-tagged their music with so it at least better be good, right?
Mostly. The blistering violence of opener “Gundog Allegiance” and the furious d-beat swing of “Indomitable” make for the best album starters this band has had since their previously mentioned debut. “Spore” has a war dance death metal vibe while “Stentor of Doom” offers up some clean vocal chants on top of some intriguing and bass heavy breakdowns. So, all in all their formula hasn’t changed that much. But, hang on, the paint by numbers metalcorific “Redundant” and the uninspired tandem of “Cibus” and “I Am the Vulture” taint the hard charge they had going. And it’s these less than glamorous moments of sameness that have plagued past efforts coupled with the fact that here we are, again, with an album full of hope that goes stale after just a few listens that makes this effort just another brick in the wall for Leng Tch’e. On Razorgrind the band does attempt to make strides to find their glory days and some of it does actually pay off. But the same tripping hazards that plagued the midsection of their career make this an album that’s, yet again, ripe for pulling a few tracks to put in a playlist and tossing the rest aside, unfortunately.
Splits are great. The chance to hear a few tracks from some amazing bands on the same album is something to treasure. Which is exactly how this Split between Texas based BLK OPS and California’s Cave Bastard hit me on the first listen and now, several spins in, I’m even more amazed.
BLK OPS opens these precedings loud and proud with their brand of noisy, grindy, doomy metal. “Truth Fuckery” blasts and speeds with malicious intent while “Suicide Laced Sugar Cubes” goes for ear piercing noise and a droning beat. But they show more here than previously thought — things slow down quite a bit to doom pacing and the psychedelic ambiance takes over for the remainder of this, the longest track on their side of the split. BLK OPS do more to show what they are capable of in roughly thirteen minutes than some bands do on a full album’s worth of material. I told you early on that there was something magical about splits and BLK OPS have made their side sound amazing. And, we still have the back half to go.
On their side of the split, Cave Bastard hit the ground running with three successive tracks of pounding fury. The grooves here are fast but extremely muscular, recalling High On Fire with ease but nastier. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out closer “Red Star” shows a completely different side of the band. They drop the speed and tune low, play slow. Truthfully, I didn’t see this coming and as good as they were on their first three tracks they are equally as good here with the beats per minute slowed to a crawl. The band slugs through nearly nine minutes of cavernous and dirty doom metal and show that they, much like BLK OPS, are no one trick ponys.
If noise, doom, grind and bombastic metal does it for you I highly recommend this split. Two bands showcasing their best and both succeed in putting together a tremendous set of songs. And just to reiterate, this is the perfect example of why splits rule so much. Trust me, just get it already.
This Split release will be available, digitally and limited vinyl, August 25 on Accident Prone Records. For more information on BLK OPS and Cave Bastard visit their respective Facebook pages, here and here.