Reviews Ken Mode Entrench

Ken Mode


Ken Mode from Canada have been around for quite a while. The band was formed back in 1999, releasing their debut album, Mongrel, in 2003. Since then three more full-lengths followed (ReprisalMennonite and Venerable) until Ken Mode reached their absolute peak with the enthralling Entrench. Listening to the album what seems so surreal is that, even though this is the band’s fifth release, it sounds so fresh and vibrant as if it was a debut album.

By combining different genres such as metalcore, hardcore, sludge, along with their noise and post metal influences, Ken Mode are able to release an album of shattering intensity. By acquiring the services of Matt Bayles (who has also produced bands such as BotchMastodon and Isis,) the band from Canada is moving with a very fast and sure pace towards the pantheon of the experimental metalcore/hardcore/mathcore scene that includes famous acts such as BotchConverge and Today Is The Day.

The different moods of the album are what make the listening process so interesting. From the neurotically chaotic outbursts of paranoia, as is the case with the opening track of the album “Counter Culture Complex” and its mathcore structure, while the band is still able to come up with a breathtaking chorus. The insanity of course does not stop there. With “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick,” Ken Mode retain their schizoid nature while sounding more upbeat and energetic at the same time. “The Promises of God,” which features guest of vocals from Dave Verellen (of Botch and Narrows,) continues to bring forth the mathcore/hardcore aspect of Ken Mode to the surface, while in “Secret Vasectomy” the band unleashes distressing rhythmic patterns along with unreal guitar playing. Also, in a more controlled manner in “Why Don’t You Just Quit”, Ken Mode are able to keep onto their complex sound while slowly dragging you beyond the edges of sanity to finally unleash their cathartic melodies in the last minute of the track.

On the other hand, Ken Mode are not so one-dimensional as to just rely on their hardcore/metalcore/mathcore sound. For example there is a fair bit of a sludge influence on the music of Ken Mode. “No, I’m In Control,” featuring guests vocals from Tim Singer (of Deadguy and Kiss It Goodnight,) with its huge bass sound is letting out a despairing scream for help, with the dirty, slow riffs becoming absolutely overwhelming. In a similar manner the dystopian feeling that “The Terror Pulse” manages to conjure with the band retreating to a more mid-tempo mode, aided by the awe that their rhythm section inspires, is able to transfer you a sense of impeding doom. In “Figure Your Life Out” we see Ken Mode mixing together their two sides, with the track starting off with their sludge sound and suddenly erupting with the usual raging hardcore fury enriched with catchy riffs and a fantastic groove. But still they show the full extent at which they can sonically go when “Daeodon” comes in with the devastating dirt encircling you while the band is set to crush your very spirit with their sludge side. 

The most unexpected and pleasant surprise of the album comes in “Romeo Must Never Know,” with Ken Mode focusing their sound towards their post metal influences, incorporating clean vocals and paying more attention to the atmospheric aspect of their music. The track still sounds as monstrous as the rest of the album despite its laid back vibe and the minimalistic attitude that Ken Mode are implementing on its structure. It develops slowly, in a steady pace, creating a spiral that becomes much more intense on the last two and a half minutes of the song, making it easily stand out as one of the highlights of the album. “Monomyth,” which closes the album, exists in a similar place as “Romeo Must Never Know,” relying more on emotion and ambiance than energy and aggression, it acts more as an outro to the album, although that does not make it less magnificent.

Entrench is everything that you would ask from an experimental hardcore band. It is a multi-dimensional album, full of raw energy, emotion, aggression, devastation and heavy fucking songs. It is absolutely amazing that Ken Mode, even though they released their fifth album and they have been going for about fourteen years as a band, are still able to produce music of such intensity and power. 

9.0 / 10Spyros Stasis
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