Last February, Editors revealed they would be releasing The Blanck Mass Sessions, an album of reimagined takes on the songs fans first heard on their 2018 album, Violence. While Violence offered a masterful blend of Editors’ rock and electronic sides, the songs didn’t always sound so balanced. The band first sent their recordings to Blanck Mass (aka Benjamin John Power) for production. Those versions were later reworked by producer Leo Abrahams, but Blanck Mass’s original direction was still present.
Today, fans can hear those original Blanck Mass recordings on Editors’ special new album, The Blanck Mass Sessions. The record includes seven songs first heard on Violence – leaving behind ballads “No Sound But The Wind” and “Belong” – and adds the previously unheard track, “Barricades.”
The Blanck Mass Sessions is a bit of a mixed bag. The tracks are overall darker and weightier, more in line with the electro-industrial sound in which Blanck Mass specializes. Songs like “Magazine” and “Cold” are more brutal, attacking listeners harder and with a more even force than on Violence. But elsewhere, songs like “Hallelujah (So Low)” and “Nothingness” feel more tender, stripped down by comparison.
Many songs here sound rawer and less polished. This is perhaps most evident on “Barricades” and “Darkness At The Door.” The album as a whole also feels less dynamic than Violence, with less space to breathe between lines and verses. Instead, the songs coast at full volume, making a stronger – if more exhausting – statement.
The highlight here is album opener “Barricades.” The only new song, “Barricades” is a dreamy, hypnotic contemplation on waiting for love. Frontman Tom Smith asks, “How long could you wait for someone you love?” As he waits for the tunnels of light to shine from above, Tom glides through high and low notes with ease. In the chorus he pleads, “Don’t run away; just barricade now.” As with many Editors songs, “Barricades” only gets better with each listen.
The rest of the album confronts fans with new versions of Violence tracks. Some of them live up to their predecessors or even exceed them. “Magazine” is a more aggressive, more exciting take on the Violence lead single. Both “Violence” and “Nothingness” improve on the 2018 releases, making them unexpected standouts here. “Counting Spooks,” a highlight on Violence, is fairly different here, but still just as captivating. “Hallelujah (So Low)” is also noticeably changed, but again, this alternative version retains its majesty.
However, while “Cold” was a standout on the 2018 album, the version here falls a bit flat. The most jarring song, though, is “Darkness At The Door.” Whereas the Violence recording sounds joyful and inviting – reflective of the friendship-celebrating lyrics – on The Blanck Mass Sessions it veers in the opposite direction. This recording of “Darkness At The Door” sounds ominous and atonal, like a demo recorded on a gloomy day. It’s the only real miss here.
The Blanck Mass Sessions offers an intriguing glimpse into the transformation songs undergo throughout the recording process. As strong as some of the tracks here are, they evolved nicely into what ended up being Violence. It’s hard to imagine Editors having released these recordings as their official 6th album, but they do make an excellent addition to your Editors music collection.
Listen to the full album below: