To borrow from the lyrical genius of Insane Clown Posse: fucking dynamics, how do they work? Plenty of bands attempt the loud/quiet game, and a lot do it competently. But few explore its vast possibilities – in structure, lyrical composition, the feel of a song – like KEN Mode do on Venerable (Profound Lore, 2011). Who knew that hardcore-filtered noise rock could create such atmosphere, where soft moments give way to skull hammers without warning? Yet another kick to my ass for not listening to these guys all along.
What’s great about Venerable is that you never see it coming. “Book of Muscle” and “Obeying the Iron Will” lead the charge with Unsane-worthy grit. “Batholith” may be the most accurate musical account of the rat race:
Towels to bruised shins and a crisp shirt later
The road is taken to a numbing punch-line
Spinning my wheels until the week draws to a close
Rinse, Repeat: Waiting for the snow to fall
Things then take a left turn. Slow burners like “The Irate Jumbuck” and “Never Was” pass the seven-minute mark, matching chunky chords with shimmering tremolo. Singer/guitarist Jesse Matthewson whispers through most of the latter, with the shouted refrain “NO GOD, NEVER WAS”. It’s powerful and, more importantly, sincere. The longer songs are bookended by spastic workouts like “A Wicked Pike” and “The Ugliest Happy You’ve Ever Seen”, reminding everyone that it’s still OK to smash into the guy next to you.
It would be remiss to not mention Venerable’s fantastic artwork. The inner and outer sleeves are a museum display of otherworldly skeletal structures that could almost be real. I’ve never seen an album layout like this. It’s great to see a band that still cares about the whole package – especially when said package contains such amazing songs.
. . .
. . .
“Obeying the Iron Will”
. . .
. . .
KEN Mode – Long-ass tour: Remaining dates
Mar 22 – Windsor, ON @ Coah & Horses
Mar 23 – Hamilton, ON @ Casbah w/Vilipend
Mar 24 – Toronto, ON @ the Garrison w/Vilipend
Mar 25 – Ottawa, ON @ Cafe Dekcuf w/Alaskan
Mar 26 – Quebec City, QC @ Le Scanner w/Mountains Unfold
Mar 27 – Montreal, QC @ Katacombes
Mar 28 – Sherbrooke, QC @ Bar Le Magog
Mar 29 – Burlington, VT @ 242 Main w/Engineer
Mar 30 – Boston, MA @ O’Brians Pub w/Engineer
Mar 31 – Syracuse, NY @ TBA w/Engineer
Apr 1 – Long Island, NY @ Ethical Humanist Society
Apr 2 – NYC, NY @ Webster Hall w/Black Breath
Apr 3 – Brick, NJ @ Bricktown Moose Lodge w/Black Breath
Apr 4 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter w/Black Breath
Apr 5 – Greensboro, NC @ TBA w/Khann
Apr 6 – Savannah, GA @TBA w/Khann
Apr 7 – Gainesville, FL @ TBA w/Khann
Apr 8 – Tampa, FL @ Transitions Art Gallery w/Khann
Apr 9 – Orlando, FL @ Will’s Pub w/Khann
Apr 10 – Tallahassee, FL @ The Farside w/Khann
Apr 11 – Hattiesburg, MS @ TBA w/Ganon
Apr 12 – Birmingham, AL @ The Firehouse w/Ganon
Apr 13 – Atlanta, GA @ TBA w/Ganon
Apr 14 – Chattanooga, TN @ JJ’s Bohemia w/Ganon
Apr 15 – Akron, OH @ TBA w/Ganon
Apr 16 – Rochester, NY @ Monty’s Krown w/Sulaco
Apr 17 – Columbus, OH @ TBA
Apr 18 – Detroit, MI @ TBA w/Ganon
w/Fuck the Facts
Apr 19 – Buffalo, NY @ The Funeral Home
Apr 21 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Melody Inn
Apr 22 – Chicago, IL @ the Mutiny
Apr 23 -Minneapolis, MN @ TBA (venue change)
Apr 24 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium
Apr 26 – Boise, ID @ The Shredder
Apr 27 – Portland, OR @ Rotture
Apr 28 – Seattle, WA @ The Comet
Apr 29 – Victoria, BC @ Logan’s Pub
Apr 30 – Vancouver, BC @ Funky Winkerbean’s
May 1 – Kamloops, BC @ Pogue Mahone
May 2 – Edmonton, AB @ Filthy McNasty’s
May 3 – Calgary, AB @ the New Black (all-ages) and Dickens Pub (18+)
May 4 – Saskatoon, SK @ Amigos
May 5 – Prince Albert, SK @ PA Arts Center
May 6 – Regina, SK @ O’Hanlon’s Pub
May 7 – Winnipeg, MB @ the Royal Albert (hometown record release) w/Withdrawal
. . .