Release Date: Mar 19, 2013
Record label: Season of Mist
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal, Noise-Rock, Metalcore
The fifth full-length record from Winnipeg, MB-based metallic hardcore noise rock warriors KEN Mode was bound to be subjected to ridiculously high standards. Their previous full-length, 2011's critically acclaimed Venerable, became the first album in Canadian history to win a Juno Award in the inaugural Heavy Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year category. Rather than being intimidated by the astronomically high expectations established by Venerable's success, KEN Mode systematically went about exceeding them with Entrench.
KEN mode isn’t a new band. Entrench is actually their fifth album, which marks a decade since the release of their first. But if you’ve never heard or heard of the bracing Winnipeg trio named for Henry Rollins’ infamous “Kill Everyone Now” mentality, Entrench might fool you into believing that this is indeed their coming-out moment. A belligerent shot of heavy metal and hardcore, math rock and no wave, Entrench bears the best signs of a debut.
In March 2012, Canadian trio KEN mode won the inaugural Heavy Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year trophy at the nation’s Juno Awards. After 12 years of tireless toil, KEN mode thoroughly deserved to win for its storming fourth album, 2011’s Venerable, although, in truth, the band was probably more surprised than anyone to find itself standing at the winners’ podium. However, the award wasn’t just an acknowledgment of the album’s abundant strength.
Review Summary: KEN mode grow in intensity on their most expansive album to date.On their fifth full-length, KEN mode clearly live up to Henry Rollins-dubbed "Kill Everyone Now" of their name. From the get-go, Entrench proves to be marked by its sheer intensity and threatening vibe. Yet, the trio from Winnipeg succeed in making their presentation distinctive this time around.
While it's mostly thought of in more narrative terms, the suspension of disbelief is something that's surprisingly relevant to the world of heavy music, which -- much like horror movies -- allows listeners to dive briefly into the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum without actually needing to run out and make profane sacrifices to dark gods or actually hate their parents. When it comes to noise rock, though, things can get a bit tricky. With the mundane as the antagonist, it's easy for bands to discover their bark doesn't really match their bite, resulting in a sound that, though plenty aggressive, doesn't really make good on its threats.
Canadian metallic hardcore trio KEN mode are one of the more recent acts to be pegged with the meaningless title of “hipster metal,” as, despite their near-fifteen years together as a band, the group has garnered sudden interest in the indie world with their latest sludge feast, Entrench. “Apparently we are now 'hipster' metal and a perfect example of everything that's wrong with American metal,” said the band in a Facebook post regarding an article which sites them as a part of the “Brooklynization” of heavy metal. Now, I’m not entirely sure whether or not “hipster metal” actually exists or if it’s just a slur invented by bitter purists opposed to the Arcade Fire-favoring crowd, but saying that it does for argument sake, how exactly would KEN mode fit this trendy stereotype? Sure, the group's growing exposure in indie-ville may inspire more Williamsburg natives to buy their new album, but does this mean that these underground metal veterans are catering to the perpetually trendy like the “hipster” tag implies? If so, then Brooklyn is becoming one dark, brutal place, because almost nothing about Entrench suggests the group is trying to make friends.