Released in September of last year, KEN mode’s eighth album, NULL, was inspired by the bleakest days of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw the band create some of the rawest, harshest material of its career. The album also marked the official debut of KEN mode’s newest member; multi-instrumentalist Kathryn Kerr joined the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Jesse Matthewson, his brother Shane Matthewson on drums, and bassist Skot Hamilton, and helped install a new palette of No Wave and industrial-tinged sounds in the band’s mix.
Arriving exactly one year after NULL, VOID is KEN mode’s ninth full-length album. More than merely the follow-up to NULL, VOID is a companion to that album, inspired by the same events, and written and recorded within the same time frame.
KEN mode’s Jesse Matthewson states: “This album is the companion piece to 2022’s NULL album. Both were written and produced at the same time, throughout the pandemic, and recorded by Andrew Schneider in the fall of 2021. The two-album arc was written with the intention of being two separate works that could be coupled together to make one full album.”
NULL and VOID are not interchangeable; rather, VOID articulates the despondency that followed the pain so vividly expressed through NULL. Matthewson states: “VOID conveys the overwhelming sadness and disappointment of 2021, after the initial crazed shock of 2020. We saw our circumstances continue to be held up by the lowest common denominator, as we attempted to move forward with our lives.”
VOID’s opening track, “The Shrike,” buzzes with urgency – a cry for help, a declaration of dejection, emanating from the precise location where NULL left off. Matthewson describes the song in this understated way: “It’s our version of a classic, driving rock song. Equal parts Drive Like Jehu and Queens of the Stone Age.”
While those two great bands may certainly have influenced the writing of the song, no one will mistake it for anything but KEN mode. The band’s signature brand of metallic noise-rock writhes and churns – the actual sound of scorched nerves. As Matthewson screeches the song’s title in the chorus, it could be no one else’s voice.
“The Shrike” is the third of VOID’s songs to be revealed thus far; earlier this spring, the band unveiled the furious gnashing of “Painless” and the heavy hardcore slog of “I Cannot.” The aggression of these singles is balanced elsewhere on the album by slower tempos, analog synths, and spoken word passages. Musically, the band explores its full range in order to tell this story of “sadness and disappointment.”
NULL and VOID – within one year, two masterpieces, two halves of a whole, two parts of a story with absolutely no happy ending.
Upon VOID’s release in September, KEN mode will embark on a tour of Europe, including dates with Fange and Lingua Ignota.
Sep 24 – Porto, PT @ Amplifest
Sep 26 – Rouen, FR @ Le 106 w/Fange
Sep 27 – Lille, FR @ L’Aéronef w/Fange
Sep 28 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephémère w/Fange
Sep 29 – Angoulême, FR @ La Nef w/Fange
Sep 30 – Clermont-Ferrand, FR @ La Coopérative de Mai w/Fange
Oct 1 – Yverdon-Les-Bains, CH @ L’Amalgame
Oct 2 – Karlsruhe, DE @ Jubez w/Fange
Oct 3 – Dresden, DE @ Ostpol w/Fange
Oct 4 – Wroclaw, PL @ Klub Łącznik w/Fange
Oct 5 – Berlin, DE @ Urban Spree w/Fange
Oct 7 – Aalborg, DK @ 1000 Fryd w/Fange
Oct 8 – Aarhus, DK @ HeadQuarters w/Fange
Oct 10 – Liege, BE @ La Zone w/Fange
Oct 11 – Haarlem, NL @ Patronaat w/Fange
Oct 12 – Bruxelles, BE @ Le Botanique w/Fange
Oct 13 – Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin
Oct 14 – London, UK @ Islington Assembly Hall w/Lingua Ignota