KEN Mode – Reprisal

KEN Mode – Reprisal (Escape Artist Records)


I can’t understand what’s gotten into these Canadian dudes, KEN Mode, while they were creating this album. Neither can I get how the hell we missed a release that’s screaming 2006.

The last I’d heard of them was when they’d released their debut “Mongrel” through Escape Artist. As it seems, now they’ve decided to produce what is their best and most satisfying effort yet. There aren’t many other ways to describe “Reprisal”, really. Should I talk about dexterity? Ambition? Groove? Masterful compositions? We may be facing one of the most powerful efforts Canada has ever produced. No, this isn’t simply a hardcore album, and trying to label “Reprisal” is irrelevant. What’s relevant is that when this album is playing I’m high on this energy that only bands without limits and narrow-mindedness can produce.

It’s literally awesome that each band member plays his own part distinctly and to the point, not to produce a ‘jam’, but mainly to produce a quality composition. And these guys sure know how to play. There isn’t any point in trying to compare them with other bands because nobody else plays like that, really. Simple as that.

The area that KEN Mode excels is their deep understanding of noise rock, that makes them able to transform their hatchlings into monsters. The guitar playing is original and innovative but not overbearing, so as to leave enough space to the rhythm part, which is another awe-inspiring element in their music. This may sound like too much praise, but it isn’t. We’re talking about an album that doesn’t leave much space for doubts, even in the first hearing. Opener “The Hammer Party” makes it clear that these guys mean business. This isn’t another ‘tech’ band. KEN Mode may have a hardcore background, but they play Music. The aforementioned space that guitarist/vocalist Jesse Mathewson leaves surrounded but not filled, gives the drummer, his brother Shane, the chance to create Dionysian drum parts, with unrivalled skill and aesthetic. This guy’s style is one of the best and most functional I’ve ever heard. It reminds me of the drum parts in Mastodon’s “Remission”, but in “Reprisal”, mostly due to musical differences, the drum parts have a different kind of potential. And that’s the reason Shane is playing God. His innovation literally leaves me speechless. And the best thing about his drum sound is that it’s crisp and clear, without any use of triggers. Real, sharp, wooden drums. An equally functional bass complements the drums and provides Shane with the base in which he builds his mostly improv playing.

Each track is unique and distinct; “Seul” is one of the best, along with “Lethe”, a real lesson of technical dexterity and imagination. The production is another lesson for every musician and producer out there: clear and warm, encompassing all the instruments, stereophonic and in-your-face.

In “Reprisal” you’ll hear Today Is The Day or even The Jesus Lizard shouts. You’ll hear one of the best-rehearsed rock trios of our age. Unrivalled imagination and a sense of strength and purpose. Any way I describe it, there will always be something missing. The point is, KEN Mode should get the recognition they deserve one day, because if we want to talk about transcendence, “Reprisal” should be definitely included.

~ by Θ. on 2009/03/10.

One Response to “KEN Mode – Reprisal”

  1. Just found this now. Thanks for the kind words man! If you’re interested, check out

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