Artist: Blanck Mass
Album: World Eater
Links: Facebook, Twitter, Bandcamp, record label
By the time the metallic fury of “Rhesus Negative” comes to a jolting end and gives way to the expansive psychedelia of “Please,” it’s apparent that “World Eater” is a truly special album.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to longtime electronic music fans. “World Eater” is the third record by Blanck Mass, the solo project of Benjamin John Power whose work with Fuck Buttons is worthy of — and has received — considerable praise. Fuck Buttons’ best material is lauded for its bombastically loud and surprisingly intense soundscapes and “World Eater” certainly deserves similar acclaim.
“World Eater” is an immense record that embraces the best aspects of electronic dance music, industrial noise, drone and neo-progressive-whatever while shedding nearly every common complaint or stereotype commonly associated with those genres. Despite borrowing from all of these styles and rarely sticking to one for long, “World Eater” is an impressively accessible listen. The record smoothly moves through the electronic music spectrum with unmatched poise and somehow finds a near-constant balance of soaring, unrestrained beats and remarkably reserved and intelligent songwriting.
This is immediately apparent on songs such as “Please” and “Hive Mind,” the two standout tracks in an album full of impeccable highlights. “Please” is a roller coaster of powerful beats and surreal vocal samplings wrapped in a gripping soundscape that feels far shorter than its lengthy runtime suggests. On the other hand, closer “Hive Mind” is basically a euphoric come-up put to eight and a half minutes of music and ends the record on a jaw-droppingly high note.
Yeah, this would probably be amazing to hear performed live at a concert while hammered beyond reason. Or high on a legal or illegal alternative. But EDM and psychedelic music stereotypes aside, you hardly need to be tripping to vibe with”World Eater.”
The depth, diversity and general ebb and flow of the record allows it to function as a thoroughly enjoyable and replayable cohesive piece. On the other hand, “World Eater’s” individual tracks have enough intricacies and individuality to invite cherry picking. At least some part of “World Eater” is appropriate for most moods or environments, which is a feat few records — electronic or otherwise — can lay claim to.
For the most part, “World Eater” is an incredibly soothing and introspective listen. But when it gets heavier, “World Eater” is positively vicious: Indecipherable feral screams overlay blisteringly aggressive electro-industrial on “Rhesus Negative” with a kind of frothing rage that the average fully-fledged metal band could only dream on. It’s a harrowing track but despite the intensity, is no less nuanced or emotionally evocative than the record’s calmer pieces.
That said, traditional electronic fans need not worry, as quieter, relaxed beats are the driving focus here. When the grizzled heaviness appears outside of “Rhesus Negative,” it serves as a subtle, underlying force and an excellent example of Power’s talent for rich and layered songwriting.
If the record has a monolith, it is undoubtedly “Minnesota / Eas Ford / Naked.” Like its title suggests, the track is split into three sections: A harsh noise intro, a calming drone midsection and a dazzling electronic outro. While the rest of “World Eater” is proof of Power’s ability to mash musical styles together to great degree, “Minnesota / Eas Ford / Naked” shows that his talent for the individual genres is similarly second-to-none.
“World Eater” isn’t perfect, but there’s still plenty to like in the record’s weaker pieces. “The Rat” and “Silent Treatment,” sandwiched in the middle of the record, are the clear downsides here. The former has a repetitive synth line that is charming enough on first listen but quickly wears its welcome. A shame, since the underlying beat is quite good and the intro plenty energetic.
“Silent Treatment” has a similarly strong intro but is largely let down by its repetitive psychedelic vocal samplings. The aim was probably to enchant, but it just sounds cliché, although the synths are great and the track has a fantastic midsection and mostly redemptive ending.
Regardless, these songs are the outliers to an otherwise near-perfect record and do little to bring down “World Eater” as a whole.
“World Eater” doesn’t have any lyrics but manages to say a lot in its 50-minute runtime. This is an expansive, intelligent and genuinely beautiful record with wide appeal and deep longevity, and will certainly be one to revisit when the end-of-year lists start rolling out.