Reviews

Blanck Mass
Animated Violence Mild

(Sacred Bones)

8/10

Back in 2010, when Blanck Mass was in its embryonic stages, Benjamin John Power was already wrestling with some of the heavy themes that would shape his future work. Death, nature, science and consumerism have all become creative canons as he’s shifted from the bleak, dark ambience of his self-titled debut through to the danceable Dumb Flesh and the expansive sound of World Eater.

That path of transition and progression leads us to Animated Violence Mild – Power’s fierce take on the “post-industrial, post-enlightenment religion of ourselves where we betray the better instincts of our nature and the future of our own world.” Motivated by that collective mortal apathy, the album reflects the upheaval of these tumultuous times, much in the same way Forest Swords’ 2017 album Compassion brilliantly hit upon similar threads of distress and unrest in its fractured electronica.

HEAR: Blanck Mass on our Midnight Chats podcast 

The coruscating noise of ‘Death Drop’ and brutal sonic rumble on closer ‘Wings of Hate’ speak to that, as the album’s spiky, discordant bookends, but in between all of that pulsating electricity, Power’s ever-expanding sound palette ensures it doesn’t become an exercise wholly consumed by hapless rage. ‘Creature West Fuqua’ takes a breath, flicking the switch between Wild Light-era 65 Days of Static and surprising, string-driven serenity, whereas ‘No Dice’ steers into sparse, dreamy M83 territory with big drums and bright synths. The undercurrent of tension comes to agitated life on the echoed percussion and snapping, audible garble of ‘House v House’ but it’s on the crunching ‘Love is a Parasite’ where things really flame into life with stabbing synth, dramatic keys and the manic, throaty fury of early noughties DFA 1979. It’s a defiant triumph; the punishing opus anchoring the album in the same brilliant way ‘Rhesus Negative’ did on World Eater.

Ultimately, Animated Violence Mild sounds and feels like a reaction, reflection and continuation of the teeth-baring protest of its predecessor. And while it was easy to interpret almost anything as remonstration with the world a few years ago, there’s more than just anger fuelling album number four: it’s the fact that the grief and uncertainty of a few years ago has transcended the hand-wringing, fist-shaking and name-calling, and evolved into the biting awareness that we’re all probably fucked anyway. Still, when the message is as potent and powerful as Blanck Mass manages here, at least our inglorious demise will have the brutal soundtrack it deserves.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.