Saturday 8 September 2018

KEN mode - Loved

Labels: Season Of Mist/New Damage Records
Formats: Vinyl/CD/Digital
Release Date: 31 Aug 2018


1. Doesn't Feel Pain Like He Should
2. The Illusion Of Dignity
3. Feathers & Lips
4, Learning To Be Too Cold
5. Not Soulmates
6. Very Small Men
7. This Is A Love Test
8. Fractures In Adults
9. No Gentle Art

It's time for some Canadian craziness. "Loved" is the seventh (yes, seventh!) full length from Manitoba's KEN mode. Since their inception in 1999, they've won a JUNO award for 2011's "Venerable" and they've toured with some of metal, punk and hardcore's best bands. After the release of 2015's aptly titled "Success", they took a break and found the time to start businesses, release music with other projects and even learn martial arts! Now, with the support of Canadian label New Damage Records and Season Of Mist, the latter half of 2018 just got a lot darker.

KEN mode’s musical chops gather elements from the entire metal and punk gamut. There’s no sticking to simple formulas because its what people want! They open up with noise-rock that mixes in the hardcore of bands like Snapcase and Time In Malta on Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should. There’s definite sassiness going on here. There’s a presence about the trio that overwhelms on The Illusion Of Dignity, despite it’s slightly low-key and sludgy sound. The saxophone of Kathryn Kerr is great, adding a bit of thinking man’s jazz to proceedings. The demonstrable anger that’s present during Feathers & Lips shows that there’s plenty of metal flowing through KEN mode’s veins and that they like to keep you guessing as to their sonic direction. It’s just incredibly noisy and vicious all round.

Jesse’s vocals seem to take on a whole new level of crazy as he gets deeper into the album and the off-kilter goodness that is Learning To Be Too Cold suits them well. The metallic edge to Jesse’s guitar work and the drum & bass playing of Shane and Scott respectively nudge “Loved” in a yet more diverse and experimental direction. The stop/start attitude of grind is present on Not Soulmates, which sounds like a brief ode to a friendship that turned sour (maybe). Whatever, it’s great. KEN mode is back to their noisy-punkish best on Very Small Men, which manages to harness a sound that Canadian bands do best. It’s up-tempo exhilaration is tough to match and it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. To-the-point song-writing and musicianship at it’s best.

Saxophone once again brings a chilled tone to This Is A Love Test and it’s very soothing, positioned as it is between the trio’s short bursts of noise. It feels more like a jazz club than a sweaty metal-filled basement when listening to it. There are more and more albums coming out now that can’t be fully enjoyed or understood in just one sitting and “Loved” is no exception. That said, penultimate song Fractures In Adults is a song that can be enjoyed by both camps, those with attention spans and though without. It’s just got that quality metal/hardcore structure that you just need sometimes. 

It all ends with the grunge-laden No Gentle Art. All eight-and-a-half-minutes of it. It’s slow tribal-like drumming, rumbling bass and quietly spoken vocals could have come from any nu-metal band that was popular back in that sub-genre’s heyday but thankfully the rest of the song doesn’t bare resemblance to any of that. It builds at a steady pace, before exploding at the mid-point into something that’s truly challenging sonically. I guess that’s exactly what KEN mode were going for with this album and it works, brilliantly. 

You can stream and purchase "Loved" digitally from KEN mode below:-

It's available on physical formats from the links below:-

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