KEN Mode – Loved album review

Canadian noise merchants KEN Mode go to the point of no return with Loved

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Loved

1. Doesn't Feel Pain Like He Should
2. The Illusion Of Dignity
3. Feathers & Lips
4. Learning To Be Too Cold
5. Not Soulmates
6. Very Small Men
7. This Is A Love Test
8. Fractures In Adults
9. No Gentle Art

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For a band with accountants in their midst, you have to wonder just what they thought their ROI was going to be with a band like KEN mode. Think about it for a moment: any band bringing together gruntingly irregular hardcore (Coalesce, Thoughts Of Ionesco), ornery noise-rock (Unsane, Big’n) and the spinier end of 90s DC post-hardcore (Circus Lupus, The Crownhate Ruin, Fugazi at their crankiest) was never going to feather any fucker’s nest.

While 2015’s ironically titled Success might have hinted at more tuneful, Shellac-ish times to come, album number seven reaffirms the belief that the band might in fact be some sort of elaborate tax write-off. Because from the get-go, things just aren’t very nice. Opening cut Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should starts with a goading eyeball-scrape of feedback and doesn’t get much friendlier, overloading early on with erratic guitar scuttles, lung-scraped vocals and moments that sound like a meat cleaver making its way through gristle and into the butcher’s block below. By the time that’s over, the unseemly lunges of The Illusion Of Dignity almost seem like some sort of respite – at least until the elasticated midway riff repeatedly bounces your head off the table and Kathryn Kerr’s freeform saxophone begins to ruthlessly prod at whatever’s left of your brains. After this? Well, let’s just say that ‘unrelenting’ is the word, with the only quiet patch coming during closer No Gentle Art – a slow-to-boil monstrosity that packs more threat into its eight and a half minutes than most bands can muster in a lifetime. 

Fans of difficult, intricate music who have not yet engaged will find Loved a brilliant place to jump in – for the rest it’s another glorious act of self-sabotage in what could conceivably be heavy metal’s longest-running act of career suicide.