Review: KEN mode – Loved (New Damage, Aug 31)

First off, I want to explain and apologize for my absence over the past week or so. I’ve been in the process of moving into a new apartment, and between dealing with getting utilities set up, classes, and not even having wi-fi, it’s been hard to sit down and write reviews. Hopefully I’ll be able to return to my normal schedule soon. Thank you for your patience.

From the brutal opening moments of Loved, it’s clear that it’s going to be a wild ride. It’s the seventh full-length release from the Winnipeg noise rock outfit, and continues their odyssey of muddy, brash, angry hardcore. The metalcore influences are not as strong on this one, with most of the tracks employing either propulsive punk pounds or slower sludge sections. There’s nothing that immediately stands out as innovative about Loved amidst an over-saturated genre, but further listening reveals some truly unique inflections and stylistic idiosyncrasies that make it interesting and immersive as well as visceral. The use of repetition works really well, especially on songs like “Learning to Be Too Cold” where a persistent riff is deconstructed from a dense cacophony to something more skeletal and angular before the aggression returns at the end. Peculiar samples on “The Illusion of Dignity” and the ambitious closer “No Gentle Art” are only further indicators of KEN mode’s creativity. I suppose it’s time to explore the other six albums as much as I have this one.