Rock & Pop

KEN mode

When: Mon., March 25, 7 p.m. 2013

This could be KEN mode's year. Just two months in, Pitchfork declared the Winnipeg noise-rock trio's new album, Entrench, one of the year's best, and the notion seems entirely plausible given a sound that's catchier and more hardcore and metal-ish than the band's earlier work. While it might be easy to attribute the change to producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, Botch), singer/guitarist Jesse Matthewson actually partially credits new bassist Andrew LaCour, who also plays in the Orlando outfit Khann, which explores similar hardcore/metal territory. LaCour's input apparently helped speed up the compositions and give them their harder edge. Still, there's breathing room, such as on the sprawling post-metal track "Romeo Must Never Know," which uses quiet-loud dynamics to full effect. Whether or not Entrench proves to be the hottest release of the year remains to be seen, but it's clear that the band -- which won a Juno Award last year and has toured with the likes of Deafheaven and Kylesa -- seems to be achieving its stated goal of "crushing whatever road blocks or barriers stand in [its] way." At Elbo Room (647 Valencia St., San Francisco) on Monday, Mar. 25, with Today Is the Day, Black Tusk, and Fight Amp. 7 p.m., $13, $15.

Kathleen Richards

Price: $13, $15

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