Blanck Mass – World Eater (4 stars)

Blanck Mass – World Eater

Intense and reactionary third album from Fuck Buttons' Benjamin John Power

The press release accompanying this third album proper by Benjamin John Power – presumably having been approved by the artist himself – describes World Eater as the 'reactionary and representative record of a year teeming with anger, violence, confusion and frustration'. This is the musical document of 2016's upheavals from Power (a sometime Fuck Buttons member), but it's not sufficient just to say you've taken inspiration from times of turmoil which have shifted global perceptions. If anything, you have to back it up through music which grabs the zeitgeist and breaks into a sprint with it.

There's no question that World Eater sounds precisely like the prevailing contemporary tastes in popular culture. It's densely electronic, structured around icy beats and glistening electronic pop and hiss, somehow simultaneously impersonal and intimate. Interestingly, there are no vocals, or none which can be identified. Instead, chants, hymnal calls, quasi-metal screams and murmured, hard-to-place words abound, a sonic representation of the chaos amid our online world. World Eater snatches at influences, and the sense is of overwhelming tension and anxiety being released by some explosively accurate pop riffs.

'John Doe's Carnival of Error' begins on a twinkling, repeated percussion line which walks the wire between comfort and uncertainty, a Danny Elfman score for alternative truth reality. 'Rhesus Negative' follows it in more typically apocalyptic style, nine minutes of racing, crunchy instrumental beats pitched somewhere between Gary Numan and Rage Against the Machine. 'Please' is a frosty and sparse piece of yearning chillwave, while 'The Rat' and 'Silent Treatment' soon submerge smooth pop hooks between galloping, uncontrollable beats.

'Minnesota / Eas Fors / Naked' is the darkest thing here, a nerve-shredding track of stress-position fuzz and sick-building noise, with 'Hive Mind' the most beautiful, a soothing R&B beat stretched to eerily hypnotic dimensions. If this is 21st century protest music, it's a protest against the complacency of the comfort zone.

Out Fri 3 Mar.

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