Monday, July 11, 2011

KEN Mode – Venerable

Venerable is KEN mode’s fourth album and first for label Profound Lore Records.

Based on a review I read somewhere on the interweb (yes I still read album reviews) I decided to give this badboy a spin, as I like to take a chance occasionally. So glad I did. Usually it takes at least a few dedicated listens for me grasp the scope and magnitude of a piece of music. It can take weeks or months for a record to take hold and grow on me, but I was taken by this first listen. The shine has still not faded. It’s immediately apparent that this is music lovingly crafted over time during a period of peak creativity by individuals passionate about their craft. Pushing boundaries and wandering the path between sub-genres, KEN Mode deliver crushing but catchy post hardcore riffs presented in a doomy progressive manner. Think ISIS’ Oceanic in terms of sheer weight with the noise-rock dynamic of Converge’s later stuff. I’m writing this (shitty) review based solely on this album, I cannot compare this to any of their previous works as I have not heard anything that came before. No doubt I will back-track their catalogue slowly over time, careful not to rush, savouring every album in its own right. Each taking their unique place in the music/life timeline, creating associations with my own memories and experiences.

Kicking off with ball-stomper Book Of Muscle, low, rumbling bass and swaggering guitar work lay foundation for scathing mid-range vocal attack. The crushing pace is kept during the wandering bass of Obeying The Iron Will and the groove-laden Batholith. Speed is decreased with The Irate Jumbuck and the comparison to ISIS rings true. There’s an epic, progressive/post metal vibe going on whilst you are being crushed under the heaviness of it all, and the whole thing just works. Nail on the head. A Wicked Pike is an upbeat rockin’ little number leading up to the brilliant post-rock instrumental masterpiece, Flight Of The Echo Hawk, breaking the album up at roughly half-way. What impresses me most is the tango between guitar and bass and the way the thing builds and challenges your emotions. This is what happens when hardcore kids grow up to be passionate and accomplished musicians. Slowing things down yet even more is the dark, brooding Never Was. Whispered vocals and muted guitar give way to heavy-as-fuck riffs leaving you crushed under thick layers of sludge. The Ugliest Happy You’ve Ever Seen keeps the noisy fires burning until Terrify The Animals rolls in all sinister and then practically goes nowhere. This is the closest thing to filler on the entire record. Venerable is closed with Mako Shark, a killer track that thrashes about, caving skulls in as it goes. The drumming carries the songs well throughout the whole album, and production is clear, crisp and deliciously bass-heavy. KEN Mode are a band I want to get to know better.

Listen to Venerable through KEN Mode's Bandcamp page here

~Craig Welfare

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