Today Is the Day, Black Tusk, KEN Mode, Fight Amp | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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Today Is the Day, Black Tusk, KEN Mode, Fight Amp Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard Image

When: Sun., April 7, 7:30 p.m. 2013
Price: $15, $13 in advance
If you’re surprised that the new Entrench (Seasons of Mist) is already KEN Mode’s fifth album, that’s probably because the Winnipeg-based band played their streamlined hybrid of technical noise-rock and hardcore in obscurity for years. That was at least partly remedied by their 2011 album, Venerable, which won a Juno Award in 2012 for “Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year”—and their just-announced set at this summers’ Pitchfork festival won’t hurt either. The success of Venerable not only justified the long slog that the brothers Matthewson—guitarist and vocalist Jesse and drummer Shane—had already endured, but it also encouraged them to adopt a road-dog mentality, which has been good news for those of us outside Canada. For Entrench, KEN Mode (that’s Kill Everyone Now Mode, in case you’re not a Rollins fan) debuted a new bassist as usual, bringing Andrew LaCour of the defunct Khann through the revolving door; they recorded with Matt Bayles, who’s worked with Mastodon, Isis, and Botch (former Botch vocalist Dave Verellen guests on “The Promises of God”). It’s the band’s best and most cohesive album to date, further distanced from the blatant Unsane worship of their early material—for the first time their noise-driven hardcore is almost wistful and melodic in spots. Right from the eerie, furious string crescendo that begins the opening track, “Counter Culture Complex,” the album piles on the tension, primarily via Jesse’s berserk, maniacal screaming and pinpoint execution on guitar, always in perfect sync with his brother’s flailing rhythms—the devastating riff-heavy interlude on “Why Don’t You Just Quit” struts with rock ’n’ roll bravado. The lyrics and song titles are vintage KEN Mode, filled with biting and mostly hateful sarcasm—playfully displayed on “Secret Vasectomy” and “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick.” If Venerable was KEN Mode’s turning point, then Entrench is their first real triumph. —Kevin Warwick



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