By Lane Oliver
The Juno award winning metallic hardcore trio KEN mode are back with the mighty Entrench; the Matt Bayles produced fifth full length record by the band. On Entrench, the band go into the “Kill Everyone Now” mode they’ve promised full throttle and produce eleven tracks of blood curdling riffage and auditory manslaughter. Entrench gives us the KEN mode we have always wanted to hear; the deadly one.
Entrench is a Pandora’s Box of an album. The well-adjusted individual will not be prepared for this album when they finally open the metaphorical box and unleash all the evils of humanity upon themselves. These “evils” will take the form of razor sharp, angular riffs, jarring rhythmic structures, sadistic slabs of noise and hate-filled vocals. This malicious album begins with a set of inharmonious, scrapping strings that pave the way for the ridiculously heavy grooves of Jesse Matthewson’s serpentine-esque riffing. The combination of these rolling bass and guitar lines, the ever impressive drumming of Shane Matthewson, and Jesse’s hateful, raw yells create an atmosphere of pure unrivaled chaos. The band also utilizes some well placed melodic chord structures during the song’s chorus that adds even more dimension to this band’s tight sound. The band utilizes this well established chaotic formula throughout Entrench’s duration with gusto on tracks like “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick”, “Secret Vasectomy” and “The Promises of God” among others. These tracks take the band’s obvious affinity for chaotic hardcore bands like Botch and Converge and distort it into a purely destructive sound that is unique to KEN mode alone. “The Promises of God”, for instance, is the probably one of the better examples of how mean KEN mode get on Entrench. This track comes right out of the gate with eyes glowing red with rage and uses its python like arms to constrict you until your oxygen supply completely depletes. Riffs as sharp as piano wire and demonically dissonant invade your ear drums only to torture them for an amazing three minutes. The addition of Dave Verellen’s (Botch, Narrows) monstrous guest vocal spot gives this track a permanent place in my heart. KEN mode are not a one trick pony however. The band switches things up a bit on quite a few tracks on Entrench. Some of the most notable include “No; I’m in Control”. This song in particular features full frontal, churning bass lines that were carved out of the mountains of Hell and were christened with a little Unsane flare. The malevolent bass attack of “No; I’m in Control” will rattle what little brains you have left if you got through the opening track. Some other songs worth noting for their diversity would be the piano infused, melodic, sprawling Neurosis-esque epic “Romeo Must Never Know” and the gorgeously empty instrumental closing track “Monomyth”. “Monomyth” closes out Entrench in such an unexpected way with a towering six minute track devoid of vocals and brimming with gorgeous, stripped down textures and melancholic strings. When all is said and done, KEN mode’s Entrench leaves you physically drained, bruised and psychologically abused. But you know you loved every minute of it.
There were some moments that I personally felt weren’t up to par with the rest of the record, such as the sludgy and slightly repetitive “Daeodon”, but the pros significantly outweigh the cons on Entrench. KEN mode has given us an album that is truly lethal and expansive. From start to finish Entrench journeys through gigantic, harsh soundscapes and riffs straight from the mind of a manic depressive. I am a huge fan of the chaotic/metallic/whatever the hell you want to call it-hardcore style that KEN mode have been categorized under and I can safely say that this is one of the better records to come from a band of their caliber in recent years. I will go out on a limb to say that Entrench is KEN mode’s Jane Done, their We Are the Romans, and even their Sgt. Pepper if you will. If you pass up on this album you are living life completely wrong. Check out KEN mode.
Label: Season of Mist
Release Date: March 15th, 2013
Favorite Tracks: “The Promises of God”, “Why Don’t You Just Quit?”, “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick”, “Romeo Must Never Know” and “Monomyth”.
For fans of: Botch, Coalesce, Keelhaul, Unsane, Converge and Today is the Day.