An evening of pleasant surprises capped off by a solid headlining set from the award-winning Canadians
Opening act Bloody Mammals were well underway when I arrived, and despite being the ‘local band’, they more than impressed. Initially coming across like These Arms Are Snakes meets Thursday, their brand of riffy post-hardcore was thoroughly engaging. Unfortunately I only caught the last three or four songs, but they were all to the point and bouncy – evidenced by the fact that they announced they’d be playing their longest song penultimately, and it ended up clocking in at only three or four minutes.
As can happen with openers, the thinness of crowd and lack of roaming frontman limited engagement, but the band are only about a year old as I understand it, and hopefully this is an aspect of themselves they can work on. That said, they were light hearted and chatty, and certainly not unworthy of attention.
Check out their debut mini-album Eventually Your House Will Burn Down below:
I’ll admit, I’m not the most metal of dudes. When pressed, I usually cite metal as my genre of choice, but when it comes down to the hard, ‘proper’ stuff, I often find it’s not for me – and Finland’s Unkind, who played main support, are properly metal. That was the initial impression I got, anyway.
From the impressively robust beard of frontman/guitarist Tommi Mutka alone, you should know what you’re in for. As I was completely fresh to their material, this was a good indicator, but I’ll admit to not being entirely impressed at first. Blame my poor week, but I found it to be all speed and bass without much interesting on top. The vocals were monotonous and drowned out, and whilst it didn’t come across as bottom feeder metal by any stretch, I was really not much to it.
HOWEVER, something obviously stuck in there, and as I listen to the band’s new album Pelon Juuret, I can see why a fair number of the audience were so enthusiastic.
It’s metal, but it’s something more. It’s crusty. It’s d-beat. It’s dynamic and driving, and I clearly did have something wrong with my perception filters. It’s fantastic. Comparisons to the likes of Black Breath would not be far amiss at all.
The venue started playing Botch‘s “C Thomas Howell As The Soul Man” in the interlude, which set the mood well for the headline event. Hailing from Canada, KEN mode are deserved Juno award winner, and are currently five albums deep into their career – this year’s fantastic Entrench being testament to that.
Alas, be it the venue size or perhaps being less well known in this country, the place wasn’t rammed, but the attendance was certainly made up for by the dramatic upswing in crowd enthusiasm. Playing mostly tracks from the new record, KEN mode grew in stature as they played; each new song drawing more energy from the assembled mass, upon which guitarist and frontman Jesse Matthewson seemed to feed. His eyes grew wider and his movements sharper as they went on. Bassist Andrew LaCour, too, threw his all into the performance, and Jesse’s brother Shane – bedecked in only his underpants as far as I could tell from my vantage – was tight as anything. For a three piece, they make a hell of a lot of noise, and that is indeed the name of the game; part hardcore, part noise rock, tracks like “Counter Culture Complex” and “The Promises Of God” boomed, whilst “Your Heartwarming Story Makes Me Sick“‘s title line was thrown back by the crowd with gusto.
The band’s closing tune was not one I knew, but by that point the band were thrumming. Jesse’s eyes seethed with malice, and he joined the crowd for the song’s climax.
The penultimate date of the tour, I’m sure everyone was tired, and whilst not a classic show, it was a pretty damn good one all round. KEN mode and Unkind finished the tour on Saturday in Belgium, but will be right back out on the road with Full Of Hell (who we swooned over in this live report) across North America in a couple of weeks.