Posts Tagged ‘Unsane’

KEN mode has released harrowing new single, ‘Unresponsive,’ from its upcoming eighth album, NULL, out on 23rd September.

A relentless dirge, ‘Unresponsive’ features frontman Jesse Matthewson unleashing a tormented soliloquy that hits like Henry Rollins at his most confessional. "Forgotten, erased, unresponsive, replaced, abandoned," he chants.

Matthewson recalls the origins of the song: "At this phase of the pandemic I had begun having dreams about my partner leaving me and my family dying, probably five nights a week, for several months. I sat there, writing the lyrics to this one while listening to a rolling storm come in, that never seemed to actually reach a crescendo. It all felt too apt for the way everything had been feeling for the last year at that point."

The track’s sparse, machine-like pulse, peppered by hints of cello and clanking percussion, points to early industrial and No Wave influences, beyond the metallic hardcore and noise-rock for which KEN mode is known. Matthewson credits the COVID-19 pandemic with pushing the band to take new chances and explore new ground: "We felt like there was really no reason to do anything at all unless we were trying to push this into something new," he states. Recorded and mixed by Andrew Schneider (Cave In, Unsane), NULL is the first KEN mode release to feature collaborator Kathryn Kerr (saxophone, synth, piano, percussion, backing vocals) as a full-fledged member of the band.

Check the video here:

Founded by Matthewson and his brother Shane, KEN mode has come to define intensity and dedication, via tours with Russian Circles, Torche, and Full of Hell, and releases produced by the likes of Steve Albini, Kurt Ballou, and Matt Bayles. Upcoming new album NULL sees this warhorse of a band emerge from the darkest of times with new energy, evolved and ready to carry on into its next chapter.

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The band embarks on a US tour in October, with support from Frail Body (Deathwish Inc).

Oct 20 – St Paul, MN @ Turf Club

Oct 21 – Davenport, IA @ Raccoon Motel

Oct 22 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen

Oct 23 – Indianapolis, IN @ Black Circle Brewing Co.

Oct 24 – Columbus, OH @ Big Room Bar

Oct 25 – Nashville, TN @ DRKMTTR

Oct 26 – Little Rock, AR @ Vino’s

Oct 27 – Oklahoma City, OK @ 89th Street

Oct 28 – Austin, TX @ The Lost Well

Oct 29 – Houston, TX @ Black Magic

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest

Oct 31 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa

Nov 2 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

Nov 3 – Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor

Nov 4 – Philadelphia, PA @ Silk City

Nov 5 – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus

Nov 6 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East

Nov 7 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus

Nov 8 – Toronto, ON @ The Baby G

Nov 9 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary

Nov 10 – Milwaukee, WI @ Cactus Club

Nov 12 – Fargo, ND @ The Aquarium

Art of Fact Records – 15th July 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

The second single lifted from the forthcoming album Null, due for release in September, is basalt slabs of rock-solid riffery of the kind KEN Mode are worshipped for by their fanbase – and deservedly so.

It crashes in hard, grinding low-end dominating, before the guitar splinters treble over the grumbling bass that drives the verse. Jesse Matthewson’s hard, shouted vocal style is savage, and the vocals sit fairly low in the mix; the splinters that do cut through are cutting ‘I’ve got / nothing more to say / You’ve got no reason to listen’. As the band put it, it’s ‘an existential crisis, set to music’, and ‘in Matthewson’s words, the song illustrates a turning point where one’s disappointment transforms into resignation.’ It all adds to the overall nihilistic force of this beast of a tune.

If both the production and the accompanying promo video serve to convey a sense of the band’s energy and sheer power live, then the UNSANE T-shirt Jesse’s wearing provides a fair reference point for this slice of sonic savagery. That said, it does signify a shift from predecessor, Loved (which still has one of the most memorable album covers of recent years). It’s a little less frenetic, less manic than, say, ‘He Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Ought To’, and the sound is geared towards being denser, heavier rather than harsher. And it packs a mean punch alright.

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KEN mode will hit the road in September for a string of Canadian shows, followed by a headlining slot at No Coast Fest in Denton, TX, alongside Metz, Young Widows, and more. Stand by for news of more touring.

Sept 23 – Winnipeg, MB, CA @ The Good Will Social Club – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 24 – Saskatoon, SK, CA @ Amigos Cantina – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 25 – Calgary, AB, CA @ Palomino Smokehouse – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Sept 26 – Edmonton, AB, CA @ Starlite Room Temple – w/ Vile Creature, Mares of Thrace

Oct 30 – Denton, TX @ No Coast Fest – w/ Metz, Young Widows

Christopher Nosnibor

Human Impact may have cancelled the UK leg of their tour citing, among other things, Brexit – which is disappointing, but unsurprising – but the arrival of new music offers some solace, I suppose.

Put simply, the UK’s separation form the EU has completely fucked the arts, especially touring musicians not only within the UK, but those wanting to play here, and not only those coming from the EU. The idea that we’re some kind of powerful supernation with immense international clout for trade and everything else is beyond deluded: we’re a small island with little to boast economically right now. So here I am, sitting by candlelight in an attempt to reduce my energy consumption, while sipping a pint of homebrew because the price of beer is soaring almost as fast as diesel and train fares – which is one reason I’ve not been to a gig all month, and it’s starting to feel like lockdown as actually better than this, meaning the timing of arrival of ‘Imperative’ couldn’t be better.

The band announced a new lineup with the release of their first new material since last year’s EP01 as follows: ‘Human Impact is super excited to announce that our line up for the upcoming European tour will include Jon Syverson (Daughters) on drums and Cooper (Made Out of Babies) on bass. We will miss Phil Puleo and Chris Pravdica, but our evolution as a band continues and Jon and Coop will join us in making these live shows truly unforgettable. Human Impact’s self-titled debut album arrived on the eve of the pandemic back in March 2020, which received much critical acclaim and landed them the front cover of New Noise Magazine France. Human Impact followed up with an eight-song EP, dubbed EP01 a year later in March 2021 which featured a mix of singles and unreleased B-sides that were recorded simultaneously to the debut album. ‘Imperative’ is the first new music from the band since then’.

It’s one hell of a way to herald the new phase of the band. ‘Imperative’ is an absolute beast of a tune, an angry grey mass of anguish and angst that slams and grinds and kicks and churns with the nihilistic fury of the best of Unsane and Daughters. It’s brutal, not in its abrasion, but in its straight-up solid bludgeoning. The guitars are steely, but corroded, the sound of twisted metal against a frenzied bass and rolling drums. Feel the pain.

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2022 TOUR DATES

15/06/22 : Sonic Morgue @ Kuppelhalle/Silent Green – Berlin (DE)

17/06/22 : Trix – Antwerpen (BE) 1

8/06/22 : Paradiso – Amsterdam Noord (NL)

19/06/22 : Mezz – Breda (NL)

20/06/22 : Botanique – Brussels (BE)

21/06/22 : Paard – Den Haag (NL)

22/06/22 : Grand Mix – Tourcoing (FR)

24/06/22 : Hellfest – Clisson (FR)

25/06/22 : Nadir – Bourges (FR)

26/06/22 : La Ferronerie – Pau (FR)

27/06/22 : Sye electric – Gigors et Lozeron (FR)

28/06/22 : Tannerie – Bourg en Bresse (FR)

29/06/22 : Sedel – Lucerne (CH)

30/06/22 : SoloMacello @ Bloom – Mezzago (IT)

01/07/22 : RCCB – Rome (IT) 0

2/07/22 : Freakout – Bologna (IT)

Neurot Recordings / Gilead Media – 8th October 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Less is more. This is something that few bands appreciate or understand half as well as Kowloon Walled City. And less doesn’t have to mean less intense: if anything, it’s a major factor in the ‘more’ element of the equation. Instead of hitting the listener with hard volume, relentless drumming, and gnarly distortion, Kowloon Walled City distil emotional pain into something simple and direct, and in doing so achieve optimal impact.

Their last album’s crushing weight derived not from its pace or even its volume, but its sense of space. Instead of filling the air with big noise, each chord crashed down hard and rang out into silence. In that space, Singer/guitarist Scott Evans’ vocals conducted pure anguish and blank nihilism. No throaty metal stylisation or posturing, just a kind of shouting – a shout of pain, of psychological torture – the torture of existence.

It’s the space between the sound that they’ve explored in the evolution of their fourth album, Piecework – their first output in six years. Make no mistake: Piecework is fucking heavy. It packs some utterly gut-punching, seismic riffs that drive hard, and when they hit, they’re utterly pummelling. But it’s the bleakness, and the blankness, that’s most affecting, that really hits the hardest. In the first instance, it’s simply so raw, so unprocessed. With the vocals clean and up-front, it’s the humanity that’s at the fore.

Not that there was any fat on Grievances, but with Piecework they pare it right down to the bone, and then scrape away a little more. Whereas most of the songs of its predecessor sat around the five or even six-minute-plus mark, Piecework packs seven songs into around half an hour. In cutting back so hard, the effect if heightened as the grey walls close in tighter, faster, more likely to bring a crushing end. The effect is cumulative, and there are no clear standouts on Piecework, only a sustained slug driven by a low, lumbering bass. It’s a bass that really churns the gut, and it has a physical force.

The production captures this dark, dense force perfectly, conveying a sound that feels live, that feels real. Wish you were there? Hell yes: we all need a bit of fortune, and Piecework is both beautiful and harsh. When they bring it down to nothing but a single note hanging in the ear, I’m reminded of latter-day Earth, and it’s clear that space and time matter.

As the press notes tell us, ‘Evans was dealing with the loss of his father during the writing of the album. He found strength in the women in his life, especially his maternal grandmother, who worked at a shirt factory in Kentucky for 40 years while raising five kids. The album name (and title track) is a nod to her line of work—and her quiet resilience.’ The lyrics are at once abstract and packed with images. There are no specifics, only scenes, and they’re bleak ones, of claustrophobic confined spaces, of deathbeds.

And it’s no criticism that this feels like an album of graft: the rhythm section ploughs on, and on, relentlessly, as if their duty is pure graft, digging, digging, digging. In the same way that early Swans was the sound of punishment, so Piecework is a soundtrack to the brutal reality of production-line capitalism.

The album’s predominantly slow pace is not the sound of rapid mechanisation, but of soul-sapping drudgery, the crushing weight of negative progress. There is no respite, no detours to bathe in moments of human kindness, the idea that for everything, there are glimmers of light and optimism. No, Piecework is an album with no let-up, in the way that Unsane are unrepentant, unremittingly grey in their outlook and execution. It hammers and bludgeons away at the senses and prods hard at the frayed nerve endings, the space and dead air speaking to the emptiness that hits us when the noise stops. Life is short and life is cruel, and Piecework is the perfectly merciless reminder of that.

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Following the release of their debut self-titled album, Human Impact have kept busy and continued writing and recording more songs they will be releasing over the coming months. The first of those new singles, "Contact" (which debuted via Louder Sound), was written and recorded shortly before the outbreak of Covid-19.

An eerie premonition, it predicts the new reality we all currently inhabit. In anticipation of this release, and as an act of connection in this time of isolation, the band put a call out to fans across the globe for video footage to use in the video for "Contact" showing how the Coronavirus has affected all our daily lives and environment. Asking the question: What does this new reality look like for you?

About the music and video, Human Impact remark: "We’d like to write songs about humankind living in harmony and balance with the world, about governments and corporations being of and for the people. But those songs would be narcotic lullabies spitting in the wind of what’s real. We wish this song were wrong. "Contact" was written, recorded and mixed just before the global COVID-19 pandemic hit. Originally written as a response to a feeling of international vulnerability to the spread of disease via air travel, the song’s lyrics proved to be an uneasy and uncanny prediction, foreshadowing our current quarantined reality."

As residents of North America’s hardest hit city, the band has earmarked their proceeds from the song to be donated to the NYC COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Human Impact ask fans to consider donating to this or their local charities as well.

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Human Impact

Photo credit: Jammi York

Ipecac Recordings – 13th March 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s inevitable that a city the size of New York would throw up a large quantity of bands. Big cities tend to simply by virtue of the fact it’s more likely there’ll be likeminded individuals to collaborate with, as well as an audience who’ll appreciate even the nichest of styles. But as a city, New York is a place of extremely, of polarities, and so is all things. A cultural melting pot, a city of dreams a disappointment, a lifemaker and a lifebreaker.

The 80s No Wave threw up a host of bands who captured the gritty realities of living in a city where the pace of life is relentless, and conveyed the drudgery of life at the bottom of the pile, for who, life isn’t about swanky parties in oft apartments, but 12-hour shifts in low-paid jobs that rely on tips just to cover the rent for a grimy, cockroach-infested one-bed hellhole. Bands like Swans, Unsane, and Cop Shoot Cop soundtracked the grim realities of the everyday: not so much the seedy underbelly, as the day-to-day reality of the masses.

As the press release notes, ‘Human Impact’s first recordings are a dark mirror held up to the band’s collective pre-history – the sound and story of Unsane, Swans, Cop Shoot Cop, and New York City itself. It’s sound is cinematic post-industrial filth rock, a dozen run down subway stops away from recognizable civilisation, as futuristic as it is grounded in its sordid heritage. The result is a potent, hard-boiled distillation of this sonic ethos’. It’s a fair summary, and the album is every bit as hard-hitting as the parts and the sum intimate

Released as the first single (although what actually constitutes a single these days seems to be increasingly vague), the six-minute ‘November’ stood as a statement of the band’s intent, and serves the same purpose in opening the album: it’s a grainy-mid-tempo grindout built around a nagging, woozy bass that has hints of broken jazz chords and it loops around itself and weaves through jagged shards of twisted guitar. Second advance release, ‘E605’ (a highly toxic insecticide) crashes in immediately after, making for twin-pronged attack by way of an opening salvo: it’s slower, steelier, bringing the grey monotone nihilism of Unsane and blending it with the relentlessness of Swans. The result is paranoid and claustrophobic.

While pinning itself into a dingy, piss-spattered, litter-strewn corer of a back alley in a cityscape dominated by surveillance and oppressive government, there’s a fair range of texture, tone, and tempo across the album as a whole, if not necessarily much by way of levity. ‘Protester’ has the swagger and swing of Unsane at their best, but brings with it a melody and a synth doodle that brings some kind of levity, at least in comparative terms and in context, and the result is vaguely reminiscent of another New York-based act, Girls Against Boys.

‘Respirator’ gets a bit Killing Joke (certainly no bad thing), while ‘Cause’ is almost poppy, in a throbbing industrial goth sense of the word, like Ministry covering The Cure, darkly brooding, bleak, brimming with a sense of apocalypse.

Human Impact’s sound isn’t heavy in most common musical sense, and certainly not in the metal sense; the guitars aren’t absolutely raging with distortion, it’s not sludgy or doomy, and nor is it overtly industrial for the most part. Nor is it heavy in the 34BPM thud of early 80s Swans. And yet, as a listening experience, Human Impact is a heavy one, It’s the relentless bleakness which has a cumulative and harrowing effect, articulating the emptiness of a sustained level of defeat, fury, and resentment at the injustices of the world. These are dark, difficult, and unpleasant times, and Human Impact capture it in the most unsparing detail.

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Human Impact, a “band that collects members from three of New York noise’s most important groups — the hardcore-influenced, ultraviolent Unsane, industrial anger mongers Cop Shoot Cop, and erstwhile Lower East Side pummelers Swans” (Rolling Stone), have released a video for “E605”.

The Samuel Mitchell-directed clip visually echoes the gritty, industrial-tinged noise rock on the band’s forthcoming, self-titled debut album (March 13, Ipecac Recordings). It is the second song to preview the 10-track release, with the band previously sharing the song “November”.

Watch ‘E605’ here:

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Human Impact, the New York-based outfit that features members of Cop Shoot Cop, Unsane and Swans are to release their self-titled, debut album on March 13 via Ipecac Recordings.

When news broke of the band’s inaugural live performance (August at NYC’s Union Pool), the New York Times said: “This supergroup’s lineup represents the fulfilment of a noise rock fan’s most fervent wish; the face-melting guitar sound of Chris Spencer (Unsane), coupled with the sampling mastery of Jim Coleman (Cop Shoot Cop), supported by the innovative percussion of Phil Puleo (Cop Shoot Cop, Swans) and strung together with the minimal yet impactful bass rhythms of Chris Pravdica (Swans).”

An early preview of the forthcoming release is available now, with album opener, “November” streaming here:

Season Of Mist – 31st August 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

I don’t know what’s more exciting about the proposition of Loved – whether it’s the introduction of ‘decidedly more extreme tone and presence of death and black metal’ into KEN Mode’s palate, or the fact it’s been produced by Andrew Schneider (Unsane, Cave In, Daughters), who has, we’re told, a ‘vision of noise and girth’.

It’s got to be the girth.

And add all this to their existing sources – ‘the desperate noise and industrial sonics of the 80’s and 90’s’ and you’ve got a truly lethal cocktail.

Lead single ‘Doesn’t Feel Pain Like He Should’ sets the tone, a squall of feedback prefacing a deluge of thunderous bass and drums and shouted vocals. The Unsane parallels are immediately apparent. This isn’t just intense, but claustrophobic: less black than steely grey, hard, and with a matt sheen.

A heavy bass trudge and guitar that’s more geared toward texture than tune evoke the spirit of Godflesh and early Swans on ‘The Illusion of Dignity’. However, the braying sax owes more to another Justin Broadrick-related project, the industrial avant-jazz brutality of GOD. It hits hard, both sonically and sentimentally.

And that sentiment is the motivation to produce an album that responds to the fucked-up ties in which we find ourselves, while also revelling in the absurdity of it all. Because the only sane response to such madness as Trump and Brexit and social media and the dominance of global corporations is insanity – to adopt an antic disposition, to appropriate from Shakespeare. In the postmodern climate, an appropriation is appropriate, although Loved lifts more in terms of spirit than anything concrete.

Jesse Mathewson (guitar / vocals) sets out the purpose: “We wanted tones that bash and cut, and for you to feel that desperate part of yourself clawing for a way out. And then, just when things are at their most bleak, you start to focus on what’s actually being said, and you’ll see the humour in absolutely everything that is transpiring before you.”

In surveying the scene that is the socio-political landscape, the humour is pretty bleak – more grim irony and a gallows grimace than a belly laugh. But it is funny in the sense that you couldn’t make any of this shit up. Loved is also pretty bleak and also full-on and brutal. It grinds and points relentlessly, churning guitars carving angularity and discord. And the bass… it hits the guts. Hard.

The tempo and tone don’t alter all that much over the course of the album’s nine tracks (‘This is a Love Test’ notwithstanding, that is – its spacious intro with strolling bass and wandering sax create an eerie calm): like any album by Unsane, it’s a work to simply let pummel you furiously, channelling the fury of US hardcore and beefing it up to industrial strength. And yes, fury is the key: this is the sound of the fury. And while the majority of the songs are fairly short, sharp shots of adrenaline injected with a large dose of acidic bile, the album closes with the eight-and-a-half-minute ‘No Gentle Art’. It goes for the slow build, scratching away, quiet but chugging away on the low end. In that sense, it’s a bit Shellac… and when it breaks out into an explosive cacophony of distortion and braying brass… it’s a bit crazy. And by the end, I’m more than ready to kill everyone. Now.

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Finnish noise rockers Throat who are set to release their highly anticipated and Aural Aggro approved second album, Bareback on August 31st via Svart Records have shared a second track. ‘Born Old’ is described by vocalist/guitarist Jukka Mattila as ’a deliberate effort to break some formulas we always fall into when writing music. To most people it might sound like the same drivel we always do and in spite of the fact that they’re probably right, we’re proud of our song. Lyrically, ‘Born Old’ is about feeling bad in every which way possible. Feeling good is overrated anyway. Plus there’s a Coil reference in the lyrics, see if you can spot that!’

Listen to ‘Born Old’ here:

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