Blanck Mass – World Eater (Sacred Bones, 2017)

World Eater

I have come to dread reading the news; in fact I often feel like I actively avoid it, since every day seems to present such a dim view of the state of current affairs that I cannot bear to be reminded by the incompetence of people. Fortunately, World Eater not only seems to share similar sentiments but also makes plain the confusion, uncertainty and fear that is embracing the West as of late.

It’s in the carousel weirdness of opener “John Doe’s Carnival of Error” that we begin our journey, its tinkling and rotating merry-go-round of off-kilter tunes slowly blistering to a hidden current of noise. The circus is deftly obliterated in short order, disappearing into heady beats and static walls as the facade cracks before toppling into the punishing album centerpiece of “Rhesus Negative”.

Harsh percussion, cinematic synths and industrial beats drive home an energised atmosphere filled with malcontent; it’s never truly dark even when feverish screams punctuate the flood; neither is it ever truly aggressive. It feels more tortured than anything, the mind brimming with a frustration that can never be quenched as events spiral out beyond our control. But it promptly takes a more reasonable approach, imploding into the woozy and downtempo mulch of “Please”. MIDI vocal fragments slip out of the dense bass drivers with youthful pleading in the “choruses”, jangling electronica glittering with promise in the depths behind. Why can’t our discourse be softer, more measured? Why can’t we just get along?

That’s not to say that cohesion doesn’t exist; closing “Hive Mind” reduces itself down to a slurry of slow, dripping textures, a melting pot of thoughts and views ultimately blending into a more neutral whole. There are always outliers, always dissenting voices that keep some level of interest in otherwise homogeneous surrounds, but it’s safer, more refined, more wholesome than its disparate and polarised forebears, like “The Rat”. Here we see subversion and self-preservation at its peak, the bombastic electronic lines moving with a disturbing force, almost inhuman tenacity. Are they not unlike our politicians perhaps, Hydras that seem to refuse die, shielded and empowered by the safety of their systems.

There are answers, ways for democratic wills to be heard, as is suggested in “Silent Treatment”; this is the true dark heart of the record, the one with the most malice at its core. It slinks along for vast swathes, uncomfortable stabs of choral chants cutting through the miasmic void space, trickles of enigmatic voice crooning in conspiratorial tones. Though of course it pulls both ways, dissenting voices in the masses carefully excised from the minds of those in charge, and that’s where the true darkness and fear resides here, in the threat of ignorance.

What is truly remarkable about this record is how obviously heavy handed it is in many of its sentiments, but how beautifully it parries it off with so much nuance, so many different sides of the story allowed to bubble their way through the mix. Nothing feels cut and dry, it accepts the complexity and range of problems faced before it, never truly attempting to propose a solution but quietly, almost imperceptibly, witholding a tiny glimmer of hope for the future. It’s completely mad and unstable but you wouldn’t want it any other way.