Album Review: Blanck Mass – Animated Violence Mild

Animated Violence Mild

It didn’t feel like it at the time, but the 2012 Olympics was arguably the last time Britain looked at itself in the mirror and liked what it saw.

Its apex was the spectacular opening ceremony that managed to celebrate the country’s national institutions without using Imperialist jingo, a feat made possible as much by the progressive score as the bold choreography.

Benjamin John Power – Blanck Mass for the purposes of now – found himself inserted into history when his track Sundowner was used for the occasion, but since then for society things have gone to hell in a handcart, a slide towards darkness which has driven both subsequent albums Dumb Flesh and World Eater into what has been at times punishing sonic territory.

Animated Violence Mild thematically examines a new set of broken paradoxes, that of our relationship with consumerism, a weakness which he claims has ‘manifested a serpent…which now coils back upon us. It seduces us with our own bait as we betray the better instincts of our nature and the future of our own world’.

The situation doesn’t call for either restraint or comfort as Power blends extremes of metal, industrial and techno sounds into what on Death Drop is a fearsomely immersive white-knuckle ride of cinematic voltage. And he’s only just getting warmed up: House vs. House continues the widescreen motifs, a tension made up of chattering, tribal samples, distorted vocals and synth lines grafted from the other side of the permeable border between noise and pop.

Which side of the line most of this sits will depend on perspective, but once the initial fireworks are over it’s possible to see Power working as a subversive more than willing to wrap up the polemical with fractions of melody. It’s an approach to production which, after the early shock and awe, gradually reveals its ambition, from the arcane but subliminal electronica of No Dice to closer Wings Of Hate’s modern symphonia and Love Is A Parasite’s blood-curdling roar.

This is music which rejects the sterility of compromise, the perfect illustration of what’s possible being the eye of the storm is Creature/West Fuqua, the hell of our mass destruction given temporary relief by an achingly beautiful, harp-led look upwards towards the stars.

Perhaps in one way this briefest of renaissances is a nod back to the days of 2012, in which even if the final straws had already been drawn people were still subconsciously able to reject the straitjacket and remember why we’re all here. Animated Violence Mild is a record that feels it needs no centre because, seven years later, there’s none left to hold us.

Breathless and kaleidoscopic, once understood it reveals itself as a perfect backdrop to the final anarchy it foretells.

7.5/10

(Andy Peterson)

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