New Release: KEN Mode – Venerable

KEN Mode: Venerable
Profound Lore (2011)

I havent been this blown away by a metal record since Pig Destroyer’s Phantom Limb back in 2007. So thank god that Brandon Stousy’s ‘Haunting the Chapel’ column over at Stereogum put me onto KEN Mode. Stousy used to write Pitchfork’s ‘Show no Mercy’ column back when that site actually covered an interesting range of music……

Anyway, KEN Mode are a trio from Winnipeg, Canada making a sludgy, hardcore infused guitar racket that tips its hat to various facets of metal without succumbing to the genre’s hysterics and cock posturing. They merge the extreme punk of Slayer’s Reign in Blood and the groove oriented chug of The Melvins’ heaviest moments with the frothy twang of DIY acts like Big Black and Fugazi. KEN Mode surge from deep riffage to high end guitar jangle in the blink of an eye, everything hooked on a dirty, distorted bass that’s so detuned you can hear its strings slapping about. Vocalist Jesse Matthewson has a diverse voice that thankfully avoids any of the metal norms –  a distorted growl on Book of Muscle; a flippant yelp on Wicked Pike; a Henry Rollins circa Black Flag on Ugliest Happy you’ve Ever Seen.

Wikipedia describes them as everything from sludge metal to post-hardcore to noise rock, and while Wikipedia isn’t the most reliable of sources there’s certainly some truth in that combination (whatever post-hardcore is). Venerable is a deathrace through backwoods swamps where hillbillies play banjos on dusty porches. It’s a shit load of fun and demonstrates that there’s plenty of life, intelligence and experimentation left in heavy guitar music yet.

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