Full Length, Profound Lore Records / Init Records
March 15th, 2011
Not that it matters to music fans that congregate on blogs such as this one but KEN mode recently won a Juno award, the equivalent of a Grammy in Canada. Now while I would've definitely picked at least 10 other bands to be nominated along side them if I really gave a shit about award shows — which I don't — (Devin Townsend and Fuck the Facts are fine, Cauldron is eh but Anvil?) and of course it's arguable whether Devin Townsend deserved it more, I have to say that it is surprising and nice to see an actually good, talented metal/hardcore act getting recognized in a mainstream music ceremony — even if it is in a ceremony akin to the watered down afterbirth of the stale abortion that is the Grammys.
Having said all that: KEN mode do fucking rule. I wouldn't be posting them here if they didn't. Quite deserving of some respect from the industry. They have a fairly distinct sound melding Converge-ish hardcore with more traditional southern sludge elements. For whatever reason their newest record, Venerable, escaped my list last year despite having heard it and thoroughly enjoyed it on multiple occasions. Each of their records makes slight adjustments to their style and this is one that in my opinion has basically perfected it, a very cohesive and strong effort indeed. Their early stuff is often compared to Mastodon, I don't like Mastodon
much to be honest — to me they don't sound similar at all. Especially on
What you get on this record is a tightly packed, dense and aggressive conjuration of angry metallic hardcore with brief glimpses of sludge in the slower moments. At times it's balls-out vicious, filled with twangy dissonance and catchy hooks (eg. Obeying The Iron Will..., Book of Muscle, The Ugliest Happy You've Ever Seen) while in others it can crawl with huge slams and creeping atmospherics (eg. Never Was, The Irate Jumbuck) but it's always intense, noisy, loud and heavy. It has a great amount of variance throughout the 40 minute march as well, letting the styles encountered breath nicely. Vocals are often yelled and punkish, only occasionally hitting a growl or a spoken clean, while the guitar and bass are thick and well defined; playing well together without smothering one another. Drumming duties are carried out with controlled and dedicated fury.
Better late then never right? This is a very pleasing record from a hard working band. Go listen to it right now. I highly suggest supporting them by grabbing a record from their online store or getting a digital copy on bandcamp (where you can hear most of their albums), and checking them out on facebook.