Dark, robotic, and sinister: Benjamin John Power is back with another head-trip.Sacred Bones, 2017
Purchase: Bandcamp / Amazon
7.0 / 10
It’s been a couple of years since the last Blanck Mass record. It’s been a little longer since a new Fuck Buttons record. What have you done in the meantime to fill that abrasive, corrosive void that Benjamin John Power normally fills? As one half of Fuck Buttons, he creates larger-than-life music. It’s anthemic electronica filtered through a dystopian future. Blanck Mass is an outlet for Power to explore new sounds and ideas. 2015’s Dumb Flesh took a slightly more hospitable, friendly approach. One outrageously cynical writer described the album as written for Nike commercials. It ain’t that, but Dumb Flesh certainly veered closer to Fuck Buttons than any of the previous Blanck Mass releases.
Anyway, World Eater is here, and if you had any reservations about Blanck Mass getting closer to Fuck Buttons, relax. This album is rougher, nastier, and less melodic than Dumb Flesh. I mean that in a good way and in a bad way. Everything you hear on World Eater sounds purposeful and directed, but it lacks the catharsis-release of Dumb Flesh. It’s a trade off. Perhaps Benjamin John Power read that crappy review about the Nike ads? “Minnesota / Ears Fors / Naked”, for example, ends in a noisy mess of field recordings. It’s much less immediately satisfying as some of the tracks from Dumb Flesh or Fuck Buttons’ Slow Focus, but it begs to be uncovered and unraveled in ways that those other tracks don’t.
But some of them do have their own melodic flavors. “The Rat” or “Please” seem to use melodies as a tether as if to say “hold onto this, and things won’t get too rough.” As much as this strategy has worked for Power in the past, it results in some of the least interesting tracks on World Eater. They sound downright tame compared to the towering, teeth-gnashing “Rhesus Negative” or the darkly sick nursery rhyme of “John Doe’s Carnival of Error”.
World Eater may be at its best when it shuns the audience away. This is when it veers furthest away from something that could possibly be played in a club. As the music gets closer to the album’s cover art — those worn teeth exposed by curled lips — the better it gets. The downside is that this malicious, aggravated music seems to be something Power is less interested in these days, opting for bigger, bolder anthems instead of these smaller, sinister cuts.