KEN mode
Null


3.3
great

Review

by apoplectic apastathetic STAFF
September 27th, 2022 | 42 replies


Release Date: 09/23/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A tale of two albums

Dissonance and fury: that pairing, an ugly harmony, is KEN mode’s unique selling point. For me, it’s this delicate balancing act that differentiates the Canadian four-piece from the twin-pools of noise and hardcore from which they draw their lifeblood. The narrow nature of their niche leaves little space for the winding 15-minute epics of the post- kids, nor do they deliver the pure pummeling of their more aggressive -core comparators; instead, they’ve built their own peculiar kingdom in the gloriously murky middle-ground, and my god do they rule it. NULL, by contrast, is more ambitious, seeking to tear down the walls of the band’s home and open up bigger, badder soundscapes to claim as their own. In this endeavor, regrettably, KEN mode may have gnawed off just a sliver more than they can chew.

Genuine, unfathomable terror awaits in opener ”A Love Letter”: a mangled, heinous, hellish terror told through the jerking language of drum kicks, chainsaw riffs and tortured horns. It’s a meaty, gnashing monster of a track, providing the booming blueprint that album highlight “Lost Grip” builds on brilliantly. “I don’t believe that you mean well” decries frontman Jesse, nightmarish keys and distortion groaning around him, coalescing delightfully in a true testament to the extreme heights that the band’s demonic songcraft can achieve. What, then, is to be made of “Not My Fault”: a sad, fizzling almost-song that starts nowhere and goes nowhere. That a tune so tepid features on the same record as the aforementioned monoliths is baffling, as can be said of the foreboding closer, “Unresponsive”. The LP’s swansong thumps and scrapes its way through blunt, circular motions before fizzling out, flaccid, its initial potential unrealised. The essential fury - that ugly harmony - just isn’t here; in its place, a lackluster, noncommittal sonic collage that sounds like an intro to a superior song that doesn’t exist, not the epic conclusion the record’s opening moments promise.

Things remain uneven as the record lurches into true Kill Everyone Now mode. Save for “Throw Your Phone in the River” - an adrenaline-fuelled Converge-ian thumper - NULL’s heavier motions also lack the band’s typical zing and snap. “But They Respect My Tactics” is a monotone mildew mush, grunting and chugging in all the right ways, but lacking the dynamism that gave the barnburners of Loved their essential staying power. Things improve with “The Desperate Search for an Enemy”, layering in strangled brass and devilish drum-work two thirds through, only for the track to shudder to a halt as things get interesting.

Unexpectedly, then, NULL is actually TWO: two tones, two grades of quality, two albums. One exhilarating, the other mediocre - it makes for a beguiling listen, as both the pinnacle of the band’s evolution and a fractured fall from grace. The more reserved, atmospheric leanings that give its best cuts their colour seem, also, to strangle the flame that brings their niche fusion of genres to life. It is, I’m sure, a stepping stone, for an album of NULL’s best ideas would surely hit levels of nightmare-fuel matched only, in recent memory, by the likes of Daughters’ 2018 opus. For that (I hope) inevitable conclusion, I await, giddily; until then, all that’s left is the half-empty void of NULL.



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user ratings (110)
3.7
great
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Slex (4)
Ramblin' man...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2022


7627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Dissent! Discuss.

Slex
September 27th 2022


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Damn lmao Not My Fault is my favorite song

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 27th 2022


7627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Lol RIP apologies etc .

I may have been unduly harsh tbh, and seems I’m in the minority anyway, but good to have some DIVERSITY of VIEWS innit

Slex
September 27th 2022


15235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Ye all good, you made yr reasoning very clear and valid!

MethuselahsGriot
September 28th 2022


5 Comments


Lower score than I would have doled out but excellent write-up, you captured the devastating weight of the songs in written form. I do have to disagree that tracks like But They Respect My Tactics become underwhelming by comparison to the rest of the album. In a way, the straightforwardness of its songwriting complements the lyrical thrust, which helps expound on the album's themes.

Plus the drumming on that track is just phenomenal, the fills do so much work to connect the various grooves on the track that even if it isn't the most inventive by comparison to KEN Mode's noise rock contemporaries it still absolutely pummels you.

Pajolero
September 28th 2022


1288 Comments


I liked the variety and to me the album is excellent overall, just feels a bit brief. Good news is that we'll be getting a second part called VOID at some point in the near future.

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


7627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Oooooh spicy. Will be interesting to see how this sounds with the context of the second LP. I imagine better.



Also cheers Griot. The drumming is indeed lovely, will pay it more mind on future spins and see if my view shifts. I just think these guys are at their best when they’re turning the tempo up just a touch, but that’s just my taste. In terms of musicality/songcraft/atmosphere etc this is pretty hard to fault, just not my cup of tea.

grandfather
September 28th 2022


197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Perfect summary. Feels a lot like Loved with dulled edges and fewer highlights. Drumming is actually one of my issues with the record — it's good, but the dude needs to switch up his rhythms more often. Might be a deeper songwriting issue, idk.

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


52215 Comments


I can't wait to read these words out loud when I get round to jamming this fucking fucking album

Faraudo
September 28th 2022


4191 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nah, this shit is fucking phenomenal. Good review, tho

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


7627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Ouch, Johnny bae, hit me right in my italics

FearThyEvil
September 28th 2022


17935 Comments


Can't wait to jam this thing! Loved was amazing so I'm expecting this to hit pretty hard too

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


17885 Comments


Italics are fun but

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


7627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I can’t relate to you

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


52215 Comments


i, will, never, love, again

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


7627 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

please stop kicking me I'm already dead

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
September 28th 2022


52215 Comments


this is a beatdown
show me your drugs
put yo fuckin hands up

Demon of the Fall
September 29th 2022


26479 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

whoa, so this came out and I missed it



gonna be a busy boy

teamster
September 29th 2022


6027 Comments


Had no idea they made this. Thanks for the review. Will check.

knia
September 30th 2022


4 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lost Grip is one of my favorite songs this year.



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