Review Summary: KEN mode grow in intensity on their most expansive album to date.
On their fifth full-length, KEN mode clearly live up to Henry Rollins-dubbed "Kill Everyone Now" of their name. From the get-go, Entrench
proves to be marked by its sheer intensity and threatening vibe. Yet, the trio from Winnipeg succeed in making their presentation distinctive this time around. Their Juno-winning previous effort Venerable
sounded way too derivative sharing plenty of similarities with noise rock titans Unsane. Although the socially-aware style of that formidable act remains KEN mode's most notable inspiration, there are several alterations to their sound that provide the new record with a unique identity. Their trademark noise rock shows further expansion through prevalent hardcore punk and sludge metal leanings. The outfit blends all these genres with admirable ferocity delivering a biting performance that bursts with atonal guitar riffs, gargantuan bass lines, intricate drum fills and deranged screams.
While the opener “Counter Culture Complex” showcases KEN mode at their most accessible with its anthemic chorus of post-hardcore origin, the rest of the album is far more complex in its dynamics. “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick” revolves around a frenzied onslaught until it slows down only to settle on a devastating mosh riff. On the other hand, “The Terror Pulse” is a terrific exercise in building tension constantly evolving from pummelling, bass-driven sections to deliriously spastic shredding. The song's climax is nothing short of suffocating with the line: “This is goodbye to the man you once knew” maniacally chanted by frontman Jesse Matthewson. The relentlessly heavy “The Promises Of God” only augments the severity with its kaleidoscopic soloing interspersed with violent metallic outbursts.
Further on, KEN mode don't always rely on unflinching heaviness. Both “Romeo Must Never Know” and “Figure Your Life Out” effectively integrate atmospheric passages into the style of the record without ditching its overpowering grimness. Moreover, the splendidly orchestrated "Monomyth" unexpectedly ends the disc on a serene note. These mellower tracks provide a welcome change of pace for the album's latter half that otherwise runs out of steam at points. Namely, such songs as “Secret Vasectomy” and “Why Don't You Just Quit?” just fail to bring anything new to the table rehashing previously explored ideas. However, even in these lesser moments Entrench
doesn't lose its fierce intensity that distinguishes KEN mode from their contemporaries. The lyrics, which maliciously delve into fears and frustrations of modern life, are also commendable getting the abrasive music into palpable social perspective. In consequence, the album as a whole makes for an unnerving, yet oddly rewarding experience which needs to be undergone by every fan of eclectic metal.