Benjamin John Power of Fuck Buttons delivers his third LP as Blanck Mass and it’s (often) a doozy. As the veteran musician surveyed the last year, he became aware of a world filled with violence, anger and all the stuff that either moves us out of or deeper into the darkness. The title, World Eater, stands as a reference to the duality of humans, the thing inside us that keeps us from moving forward and falling deeper into that sunken place where goodness dies. That said, it’s not an entirely dark record. Yes, there are moments of hazy, dissonant sounds that call to mind the collapse of something greater than ourselves, including the nine-minute ball of confusion titled “Rhesus Negative.” Even there, though, there are passages filled with intense beauty and something approaching calm in the eye of the storm.

There is even, at times, a playful sensibility that prevails, including on the opening “John Doe’s Carnival of Error,” an all too short slice that one can imagine as the theme to an imaginary television series, one that seamlessly blends the wonder of childhood with the dangers of adulthood. “Please” plays with soulful samples and beats that sound warmly retro, almost quaint, as though Power had decided to write and record a song that had more in common with 1991 than 2017. That’s not a kick in the teeth to either the composer or the composition. There’s something deeply comforting about both its simplicity and sincerity. Power’s pop sensibilities take hold on “The Rat,” which occasionally recalls the merrier aspects of “John Doe’s Carnival of Error” while never seeming like an all-out retread.

Some things don’t work as well as others. “Silent Treatment” has several moments that rival the better material here but it stays too long in some places, repeating its main thread too often and with a little much pride whereas the others evolve naturally, taking their time but powering forward at exactly the correct moment, making us marvel at Power’s incredible skills. The same might be said for the noisier, hissing “Minnesota/Eas Fors/Naked,” which makes its point a little too late to fully win us over despite having some level of smarts and sophistication. The closing “Hive Mind” also takes too long getting to where it’s going or, rather, seems not to have a clear sense of direction from the start or at the end.

That said, the good moments outweigh the bad, and the dead-ends and missteps are, in some ways, part of this record’s charms. Its imperfections remind us of art’s delicate balance, but Power never goes that far astray. There is never a reason to skip any of the seven tracks here entirely as each gives us some slice of entertainment. That our artist recognizes that the world is never entirely black or white creates some of the problem, though. The shades between leave us craving a little more drama, a little more intensity that never quite arrives.

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