LIVE REVIEW Blanck Mass, Violet Grace & Frans Gender @ The Cluny, Newcastle (24.11.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Nothing screams quiet Sunday night quite like having your skull shelled by Blanck Mass. Notorious since his emergence with Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power’s live shows seemingly grow more punishing by the year – thanks in no small part to an aesthetic shift that’s drawing his dense electronics none-too-subtly into realms of extreme metal. Eschewing conventional rhythms for relentless blast-beats, Power’s latest record, Animated Violence Mild sees this transition gather pace, and as such there’s a certain inevitability in tonight being his most physical and challenging North East show to date.

Before the sonic onslaught begins, however, Power throws a genuine curveball in enlisting support from Violet Grace & Frans Gender. Drag acts certainly aren’t the types of openers Blanck Mass audiences are accustomed to seeing (and in my case, reviewing), yet the pair seem uncowed and even inspired by this novelty, drawing a warm response amid a slew of raunchy exchanges and wince-inducing acrobatics.

The early stages of Blanck Mass’ set are distinctly less colourful, as Power rails against both his own projections and the venue’s lighting; seemingly hellbent on performing in total darkness. Eventually he relents – allowing dulled images against the stage’s black backdrop – and the focus switches to an aural assault that’s already seen some dash to the bar in search of earplugs. A shrill, pulverising menace, Power’s arsenal of synth is as vicious as any riff or rattling feedback you’re likely to encounter. It’s not until the unusually zestful House vs. House around 45 minutes in that we’re offered anything resembling pop sensibility; and that’s quickly swept under the carpet when he closes with both sides of non-album single Odd Scene/Shit Luck – a flat-out pummelling that’s to all intents and purposes a fiendish black metal blowout.

I loved it. My pulped brain begged to differ.

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