KEN Mode / Full of Hell Lucky Bar, Victoria BC, November 12

KEN Mode / Full of Hell Lucky Bar, Victoria BC, November 12
Photo: Jason Schreurs
A night of abrasiveness started off with ominous tones from Maryland's Full of Hell intro noise that erupted into shrieks and squeals not heard since the slaughterhouse floor. Vo-kill-ist Dylan Walker paced around the stage with a possessed look in his eyes, horking spit onto the stage between his extended bouts of scream therapy. The band combined grind, powerviolence, hardcore, noise and death metal into a live show that was pure performance art. The few mouths in attendance were left agape after Full of Hell's brief but disturbing set.

Winnipeg noise rockers KEN Mode weren't going to let an ultra-sparse Victoria crowd slow them down or quiet their roar. Vocalist Jesse Matthewson, his brother Shane on drums, and bassist Andrew LaCour hit the overdrive button and motored through songs from their last two albums, this year's Entrench and 2011's Juno Award-winning Venerable. Tracks like "Mako Shark" and "The Ugliest Happy You've Even Seen" were almost indistinguishable amidst the chaos and fury of their live show.

Noise rock, by its essence, is a spiny, unapproachable beast, but KEN Mode worked the underlying groove of their songs to the maximum, using a technique employed by bands before them, such as New York's Unsane: crank everything, bludgeon your audience into a shivering pool of mess (that KEN acronym does stand for Kill Everyone Now, after all) and, somehow, some way, let the melody pierce through the heavy. Finishing with the whispery "Never Was," almost ten minutes in length, KEN Mode proved that, despite what we've been told, more actually is more. And the Juno for most brutal live show goes to…