KEN Mode’s new album, Loved, feels like the soundtrack to real-life horror. The last track on the record literally includes a brief foray into lyric-less maniacal growling and screaming while pummeling music bleeds out of the background. If that’s your thing, this record is for you.
There’s a dark order that at times emerges over the screaming and thrashing instruments, as if the listener is walking on a thin bridge over a gorge where death waits at the bottom. Our lives out here are horrifying at times, so there’s always going to be a bit of catharsis in using art to explore going over the edge. However, catharsis is hardly the only end in sight when listening to KEN Mode’s Loved.
The figure at the center of the record sounds hellbent on living in the horror, which could be both darkly empowering and just dark. On “No Gentle Art,” vocalist Jesse Matthewson seethes over and over: “Stop giving me hope!”
Anger is, by itself, a solitary emotion that can only carry a record so far. Here, it’s more like a massive tank got busted open and everything came out, not just one item. Loved is a live wire hanging in a pool that will burn anything that comes in contact.
The record builds up to a crescendo with the final track, which might be the darkest. The band could have organized the record differently, interspersing more of the style of the last track through the rest of the album. What they have done, though, is create a record that leaves you gradually more and more uneasy, working towards the massive end flourish that lets the other songs have an extra brooding nature to them.
If the songs were all similarly furious, that layer of creeping darkness would be lost. Everything would be revealed all at once, so to speak, and that doesn’t always work. People dislike spoilers for movies they’re going to see for a reason.
In the end, Loved is somewhat like a movie, in that it is not just audio being sold by a record company. The record is a mental experience that drags the listener out into the darkness. Some certainly won’t be fans, but that’s irrelevant. The record sounds right for the right people, it’s perfect.