KEN Mode – Entrench

image

KEN Mode
Entrench
Season of Mist

KEN Mode hit it big last year after scoring a Juno award for 2011’s ‘Venerable’, after which you may have expected the Winnipeg, Manitoba natives to perhaps not sound so angry, so intense. Instead they buck the trend. It didn’t seem possible for KEN Mode to get any more intense after ‘Venerable’s bloodlust, but that’s precisely what they’ve managed with ‘Entrench’. Their fifth album in ten years begins predictably manic with ‘Counter Complex Culture’, and it doesn’t take long for the venomous trio to bare their teeth. ‘No, I’m In Charge’ and ‘Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick’ are both examples of people you’d hate to meet in a darkened alley. Those speedier thrillrides are balanced by a mixture of slower, heavier, and occasionally more atmospheric. Tracks like ‘The Terror Pulse’ and ‘Daeodon’ are huge city monsters roaming across the space they occupy; ‘Figure Your Life Out’ is like being in the ring with a champion counter-puncher who just keeps picking you off time after time with jab after jab. The riff is underpinned by some fabulous rolling bass and a strutting beat that underpins the song and eventually collapses into one almighty haymaker.
 
And then there’s the forays into post-metal, most notably ‘Romeo Must Never Know’, which sees vocalist Jesse Matthewson whispering over a quiet-loud riff that eventually explodes into a dark, dramatic finish, while ‘Monomyth’ takes the classical approach and feels equally climactic with stunning string orchestration. Put simply, ‘Entrench’ is quite possibly one of the most enjoyable treats to come my way this year – its raging, its angry, its downright tormentous, with even the quieter moments seeing the tension ratched up like a powderkeg ready to explode, with ‘Monomyth’ being the moment the red mist finally lifts and we can look back upon what a beautiful rampage this is.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Entrench’ here
Stream it below:

Official site
Bandcamp
Facebook
Twitter

Kylesa – Ultraviolet

image

Kylesa
Ultraviolet
Season of Mist

I have a slight confession to make here. While its no secret that I love sludge and doom metal – as it is present around various parts of this site’s history – I’ve never got Kylesa. I don’t know why. As a drummer, I should at least have been blown away by their incorporation of two drummers into their sound. I should have dug those sweet psychedelic sounds, those thunderous grooves. But for all the explosion of the stoner metal scene in the mid-2000’s, Kylesa seemed to be the band that got away for me. Despite attempts to get into them more, nothing seemed to click. Did I genuinely not enjoy this band? Was it myself, or was it something I deemed them to be missing.

After listening to ‘Ultraviolet’, I’ll possibly never ever understand why it’s taken me so damn long. And most of you are probably wondering the same thing. It’s the wake-up call I’ve been waiting for. One of the most enjoyable slabs of music to come my way this year. I guess after not being able to appreciate the last couple of albums, ‘Ultraviolet’ feels like the apex of the swell; as though Kylesa have been building to this for some time. Much darker and introspective than previous releases, ‘Ultraviolet’ is a vast spectrum of titanic riffs and acidic skies, psychedelic wonderment and ambient gaze. ‘We’re Taking This’ is one of the album’s fiercest songs, before plundering into a trippy midsection before going back to its booming riff. By contrast, the almost mournful ‘Steady Breakdown’ embellishes Kylesa’s new psych-vision, while ‘Quicksand’ makes for one of the more happier sounding songs against the call of ‘I’m choking on my own blood!‘ Founder members Philip Cope and Laura Pleasants trade off riffs and vocals with aplomb, Pleasants in particular showing an immense melodic streak that’s more prevalent than ever before, most terrifically on the closer ‘Drifting’ which evokes a barren, lonely existence through its echoey opening scenery, before exploding in the final 90 seconds to finish on an almost hopeless, yet enthralling journey.

For me, now begins the long process of reparation – to show this band a bit more love and recognition and to make up on what I’ve not realised. That Kylesa, slowly, surely and now definitively, are stamping their territory as one of the standard bearers for modern, innovative sludge metal.

Peter Clegg

Buy/stream ‘Ultraviolet‘ here (CD/vinyl bundles)
Or here (MP3/various formats)

Stream it below:

Official site
Facebook
Bandcamp

Rotten Sound – Species at War EP

image

Rotten Sound
Species at War EP
Season of Mist

Finland’s premier grind crew Rotten Sound have been fairly productive over the last few years, and are back with another short release, this time the six-track ‘Species at War‘ EP. What little it offers in surprises, it makes up for in urgency and the band’s ability to devastate, as they have done now for twenty years. Operating with the same efficiency as their homeland’s ability to operate efficiently in wintry weather, it’s a short trip of around nine minutes, and nothing less than a slaughtering exercise in blasting, hammering and growling away, chucking in the odd groove for good measure too – particularly that one on ‘Salvation’, which is a beast. The best bands don’t tinker too much when they’re onto a good thing, and Rotten Sound show that capability time and time again when asked, as they have for twenty years now. Its a grind business, and business is excellent right here.

Peter Clegg

Buy ‘Species at War‘ here (MCD + other formats)
Download it here (MP3 + various file formats)
Stream it below:

Official site
Bandcamp
Facebook