Monday, April 15, 2013

Ken Mode : "Entrench"

When I first listened to the Canadian post-hardcore band's new album , I wished I have downloaded Depeche Mode instead of Ken Mode , but after a closer listen through headphones I have warmed up to it. Matt Bayles produced it so it sounds great and all the instruments are well played. The thick riffs start off angular but not forsaking the power to rock you for mathematics.

A lot of this sort of thing clearly has descended from Botch, yet the Rollins yell that seems to have become increasingly popular amongst the hipsters riding the line between punk and metal these days, makes some of the songs less than memorable as they have a similar cadence. Are their touches of Amp Rep era bands? Check yes so it's hipster approved and Brooklyn Vegan will give them their seal of approval. But by the time it gets around to the third song "The Promises of God" this seems like a variation of the second song, though their is a little more crunch to one riff in particular and a cool smacking punch to a bridge breakdown, but just a cool riff or two does not a good song make or make a good song for that matter, though by the end of the third song they power through to redeem themselves as the vocals butch it up into say Nails territory.

Theres a more metal take on things with the song "Daeodon" where some of the riffing is less apologetic about being into metal. Which is feeling I get that they are trying to save face with their punk friends. The chorus gets more Rollins but the almost sludgey grunge to the verses make up for it and apologies aside they are good at what they do I have no doubt they can pull all of this off as tightly at rattling volumes live which give them a stong case as a band.

The math punk flares up on "Why don't you Just Quit". Im still trying to figure out though why this album should be in my iPod instead of Pissed Jeans. It's slicker and more metal, making me curious if the whole Rollins thing is a new turn of events or if they used to sound more like Mastodon. There a melodic chord progression I like on this one but that doesn't make it a song.

There's a very Filth Pig feel to the opening of "Figure Your Life Out". The ambiance hovering over the bass line is a nice touch they need to break thing son this one up a bit. The guitar work is very fluid and I like they way they move the song along but the vocals have really begun to bore me by this point. The "this is my black hole" line works but would be more effective if this Unsane type of vocal phrasing had been more intresting. When the song congeals into a tightly chugged riff that swells up by the end it works a lot better.

The gears switch by the beginning of "Monomyth". There is some delicate post-rock guitar, which I like because I want to hear a band that has a range of dynamics to what they do. Though by the two and a half minute mark you are ready for this to go somewhere, so pacing can be an issue for these guys. When the strings come in sure it sounds good but the song still just feels like an intro. So the fact they can't blend this into their normal song framework makes this interlude a little pointless.

They crash back into a more typical form with the Convergish "Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick" it shows one thing which is their heavy is not as convincing as Converge's, in fact the riffs come across as bland until the break down at the end. The post-rock guitar sound returns on "Romeo Must Never Know" the vocal whisper changes it up and the bass line reminds me of a Kylesa song, but all the above is an improvement. The drums back off and the bass takes the controls and there is almost some singing on the chorus, it's the very monotone Jesu type thing and the way the drums crash back in has a Swans feel to it making this instantly my favorite song so far. In the final three mintues they bring back the punch they have had for most of the album but I think it is more effective here and the single note stuff the guitar does is some of the best work on the album.

"the Terror Pulse" has a more muscular throb to it. The distorted bass line is thick and oozes a coat of grime over the song like a monster slug. It builds into a more predictable post-hardcore part, which I suppose could pass for a chorus. Back to the cool cool idea but when they fall after a really good song then this sort of thing feels like filler. The angry pacing builds up into a very nineties hardcore section. The last chance for them to redeem themselves lies in the hands of "No, I'm Charge" that runs along the same lines of a bass heavy distorted steamroller with the Boot Camp yell over it. There is some Mathy syncopation jammed into the corners and the guitar coasts over top but it doesn't feel like it going anywhere this album hasn't already taken us.

I'll give this album a six , there's potential and a couple stand out songs, but they don't provide enough dynamics to an album that falls upon being a one trick pony for the most part this would have been really innovative shit in the late nineties but having lived through that period already it doesn't do much more me now, how ever if you are stuck in that time period or too young to have been there then it might be worth your while as they do a good job of pulling it of but how many of these sort of bands do we need today?

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