Canadian metallic hardcore-influenced noise rock band KEN Mode are back with a new album, Loved (Season of Mist), but there’s no love to be found on it. Contrary to the name, the Winnipeg, Manitoba band’s seventh album is a solid slab of slow churning, nihilist hardcore that sounds like it could self-destruct at any minute.
From the opening grind of ‘Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should’, this is thirty-five minutes of unforgiving and unrelenting anger. It’s intense, claustrophobic, and raw. Every note, every word Jesse Matthewson utters is completely joyless in its delivery, but that’s not to say it’s not enjoyable. KEN Mode have an edge to their sound that suggests they’d be very good live.
‘Feathers & Lips’ boasts an abrasive punk groove. ‘Very Small Men’ is a relentless onslaught. ‘Learning to be Too Cold’ and its jagged rhythms almost has a post-metal atmosphere to it.
Obviously, there’s little to nothing in the way of melody or a tune, but there’s enough variety on show to keep things from getting stale. The slight touches of things like the saxophone ensure things stay interesting.
‘This Is A Love Test’ features an ominous slow build and utilizes the saxophone and some spoken word elements to build the mood before breaking into chaos and then repeating the cycle again. But it is the eight-minute closer of ‘No Gentle Art’ that impresses the most; a minimalist intro builds on haunting rhythms into a creep, before exploding into pure feral aggression. The saxophone segments add an extra layer to proceedings.
A short, sharp stab of music, Loved is ferally aggressive. If you need music to destroy stuff to, this is it.