KEN mode has long been pushing interesting boundaries with their harsh, heavy music. Their most recent album Loved, their seventh full length if you’re keeping track, keeps things pulsing with reckless abandon. Loved incorporates elements seamlessly in a way that only experience and a desire to grow can produce. Years of touring with diverse musicians across the world has obviously given them perspective. As a whole the album is gripping and is executed so well.
Over the past few albums, KEN mode has not been shy about incorporating many far reaching elements into their sound introducing cello, violin, sax, piano, noise, and other elements into their albums. In Loved we find spastic sax lending a sense of chaos into a few of the albums more hectic songs. In “The Illusion of Dignity” we hear a ripping sax solo to punctuate the grinding album opening of “Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should.” and “The Illusion of Dignity”. This is then followed by the down-and-out hardcore driven track, “Feathers & Lips”, moshers rejoice. From there we flow from banger to banger until landing softly back intro the groovy “This is a Love Test” heavily featuring smooth sax and thumping bass. The album is closed by another change of pace with the plodding “No Gentle Art”.
Loved bridges a gap between genres and styles that KEN mode has whittled into their own over the last 19 years (the band turns 20 next September). The use of instruments not typically associated with this type of music in such careful powerful ways lends so much tension and variety to the album it’s hard not to just listen to it straight through every time. There are certainly some stand out tunes, but it all comes together so well you can’t help but keep engaged.