Review Summary: The flesh of Animated Violence Mild doesn’t rot: it bleeds.
As many others have said already, World Eater
by Blanck Mass
could be easily interpreted by its album cover: a growling maw that’s seconds away from ripping and tearing at its prey. Without a doubt, it was an unsettling album. It’s tough to overlook the crackling freakout of “Rhesus Negative” or the more-upon-more sonic layering of the later sections of “Hive Mind.” Even in its softer, less intense moments, it was anything but a drone album. World Eater
was Benjamin John Power’s triumphant attack on the sensibilities of what could be called “experimental electronic music” and that level of volatility is what made it such a bizarre, but mesmerizing record. And the 2019 follow-up to World Eater
doesn’t hide its mantra either. In fact, familiarly enough, it’s blatantly displayed on its album cover. After taking a nervous breath and biting in, the listener steadily realizes that the flesh of Animated Violence Mild
doesn’t rot: it bleeds.
Without question, Animated Violence Mild
is almost perpetually on edge. This admittedly isn’t too different from World Eater
’s most memorable moments, but this album doesn’t give the listener many opportunities to catch their breath. This is an anxious album, through and through. Power supercharges these tracks with dense tornadoes of noise, distortion, and ravenous musical chaos. It’s impossible to overstate how these tracks manage to feel so full, so close to rupturing and bleeding out, but that’s a genuine characteristic that Power makes no effort to mask. He’s in his element here, demanding more and more layers of sonic ferocity, and carefully walking the line between aggression and texture.
In the case of “Love Is a Parasite” and the excellent “Death Drop”, distorted, almost black metal-esque vocal bits are added in, piercing through the miasma of electronic noise, while dripping with venom. In a different vibe, “Hush Money” stuns immediately, with its clean, shimmering synths and rapid electronic rhythms. Power successfully merges his angry experimentalism with a sleek, rhythmic style with this track, turning a cyberpunk spiral into one of the best tracks on the record. It’s pretty damn impressive that Power is able to make such ferocious tracks into something you can dance to, but lo and behold, Animated Violence Mild
is chock full of them.
The moments of reprieve are rare enough to retain the album’s chaos, but even they have an unsettling and anxious nature to them. The repetitive glitchiness of “House Vs. House” echoes the stuttering beats of World Eater
’s “Hive Mind”, but soar into a cosmic shine, a surprisingly uplifting setpiece that contrasts nearly everything on the album. The funky “No Dice” lacks the immediacy of something like “Death Drop”, but like many a great Blanck Mass track, it constantly adds in new beats and sounds as the song progresses, stacking the mix higher and higher. “Creature/West Fuqua” cools the scalding burns of “Love Is a Parasite” and ends with a majestic settler, giving the listener a well-deserved moment to catch their breath again.
But the restlessness never totally dissipates. Across a condensed eight tracks, Animated Violence Mild
never completely relaxes. It’s a tense collection of songs, whether they’re frying your synapses with feverish noise or simply making you sweat buckets with infectious dance beats. In all honesty, it doesn’t stray too far from World Eater
, but at the same time, there’s something far more cohesive and unified about how Animated Violence Mild
is structured. The tracks still resonate with a boiling intensity, and even during the brief moments where things settle down a bit, Power is always at the ready to slingshot things back into the stratosphere. Whether it’s those devilish, distorted shouts or just another melodic layer on the cake, Animated Violence Mild
always sounds anxious. Whether you call it experimental or not, Blanck Mass continues to be Power’s exhaustive effort at making music that, at almost every moment, feels one step away from shattering to pieces.