At the heart of Animated Violence Mild lies a frustration wrought from humanity’s over indulgence which now puts our place on the planet at risk. Ben Power aka Blanck Mass spent 2018 honing the sound of the album and focused on the void of consumerism, the central concern of the album. A bereavement led him to include grief as a thematic aspect of the album too, and these combined elements create an angry monster of feral chaos. Electronic music almost by its very nature is political, and although these ideological strands may not reveal themselves immediately to the listener the tone of indignation and pessimism permeates throughout. Cheap hacks might write that with this album Power is putting the disco into discontent. Not me, though.

The three Blanck Mass albums leading up to Animated Violence Mild have their own distinct feel, so it is something of a surprise that this album is close in tone to 2017’s masterful World Eater, as Power sticks with the industrial-electro focus that shaped that album into such a behemoth. It comes as something of a surprise, but not a disappointment as Power expands on this sonic template to indulge in more noise but also more melody.

‘Death Drop’ has the most in common with the tracks from Blanck Mass’s last album, and it’s a typically rousing track with distorted beats and fuzzy bass to the fore. A screamed vocal is almost EQed out of existence which only adds to the sense of intense suffocation that is at the heart of Power’s best work. There is a density to Animated Violence Mild which is evidenced in ‘Death Drop’’s multitracked layers that swarm over the listener as attention flits from one aspect of the song to the next. Power has made a career out of doing just this, whether with Fuck Buttons or as Blanck Mass, and suggests the work of someone who finds it difficult to focus on just one task at a time. There are almost too many ideas going on here, and as sounds careen this way and that the music absolutely demands the listener’s attention. At just over seven minutes long, ‘Death Drop’ is an exhilaratingly exhausting listen and you feel bruised by the end of it. In a good way, obviously.

There is no let up for the listener as ‘House Vs. House’ comes hot on its heels and has a euphoric swooping opening, with stabs of electronic percussion and a twisted melody building to a crescendo before relaxing into a heavily processed vocal which gives the song an anthemic quality. Not exactly what you might expect from a Blanck Mass album, perhaps. The track has a very similar feel to Fuck Buttons’ ‘Olympians’ in its splendour and dystopic celebratory tone. There is a sense of cultural reconstruction here, of taking apart the corpse of popular music and reanimating it into something more resembling an account of the world we are slowly beginning to realise we helped build. This sense is shared with the closing track, ‘Wings of Hate’ which structures itself around ideas of repetition with only the smallest elements added or taken away but still altering the course of the song. It is in the smallest alterations, perhaps in themselves seemingly insignificant, that sweeping changes can be realised.

Melody is at the forefront of the album as a whole, replacing a sense of disconnect through noise with fractured and mangled tunes and motifs. This is clearest on album highlight ‘Hush Money’, which has a swagger to it that is almost the natural end result of Blanck Mass’s output to date. There is a sense on Animated Violence Mild that Power is more confident than ever before, and the rush of tracks with barely a pause for breath are also evidence of this. ‘Love is a Parasite’ is a staccato laced monster, with a taut propulsive quality that is all-consuming, whilst ‘No Dice’ is an interesting and weirdly successful amalgam of early hip-hop beats and 80s synth, like a musical predator picking at the rotten and corpulent cadavers of Sly Fox’s ‘Let’s Go All the Way’ and Paula Abdul’s ‘Straight Up’.

Put simply, Animated Violence Mild is an excellent album which is imbued with righteous vitriol. This isn’t just the best Blanck Mass album to date, it’s also the best record that Power has been involved in, which really is saying something.