Winnipeg’s KEN mode have spent their Q1 basically kicking ass across North America, violently bashing their new longplayer, Entrench, into our cultural consciousness. I’ve been a fan of the band for years now; I interviewed them when they toured for their last album, 2011’s Venerable, at which point the band’s core members — brothers Jesse and Shane Matthewson — had just quit their respective office jobs (as accountants!) to focus primarily on KEN mode, a transition Jesse told me was “both liberating AND terrifying … Thankfully we’ve been around the block a few times and certainly know how to manage our day to day dealings as a band, so we’re not going to go completely broke doing this, but there’s definitely not the level of comfort that one would have working an office job.” Not many “heavy” bands can sustain themselves solely via music, and it’s exciting to see KEN mode not only going for it, but continuing to go for it so thoroughly. They’re uncompromising, disciplined people, making uncompromising, disciplined music, and leading an uncompromising, disciplined lifestyle. (Along with touring pretty endlessly, Jesse practices Muay Thai fighting and Brazilian jiu-jitsu.) I got my first chance to see them at SXSW — where they seemed to be playing six or seven shows per day — and they absolutely demolished the place; the night I saw them, they were the second of six bands, and nothing that followed matched their intensity. We had “Counter Culture Complex” at No. 4 in February’s Black Market — Stereogum’s new monthly heavy-music column — and Doug wrote about the song, “You don’t hear ‘skronky chord voicing’ or ‘double-bass roll’ or ‘hardcore snarl’ when you listen to this song. It’s easier — and more fun — to let KEN Mode’s rhythm section ballistics and sometimes-sassy, sometimes-somber melodies wash over you in bristling gusts.” Now, the band has released a video for that track, and it’s a totally badass collage of traditional black-metal imagery: woodcut images of Baphomet; leather-clad warrior princesses; bleak forests in winter; etc. It doesn’t necessarily match up with KEN mode’s high-impact, muscular noise-rock, but it’s a great video for a great song, Watch.
Entrench is out now via Season Of Mist.