Jesse Matthewson (KEN mode – vocals/guitar): Zeni Geva – Desire for Agony (1994): Painting by Mark Fischer, design by K. K. Null.

Art Corner: KEN mode discuss their favourite album coversI’m not sure why this immediately shot into my head as my first choice from the moment I was tasked with thinking about my favourite album artwork of all time, but evidently Mark Fischer’s piece here has made a lasting impact on me. There’s just something about the nasty colour choices, the blood-stained backgrounds, the combo of English characters and Japanese (band name and album name respectively), the dog barking at the skeleton while the clearly Japanese face stares off into the distance; it brings me back to seeing VHS packaging for 18+ rated Japanese animated films in Bill’s Video from my childhood, with a sense of wonder and mild fear. What could make a cartoon too much for children’s eyes? Is this kind of artwork another warning, this time perhaps something too visceral for young ears to comprehend? I bought this album when I was 14 years old, and I don’t feel I truly began to understand its power for another few years – remaining one of my favourite albums of all time ever since.

Scott Hamilton (KEN mode – bass): Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath (1970): Photography, Design and Layout by Keith MacMillan (AKA Marcus Keef)

Art Corner: KEN mode discuss their favourite album coversThis cover has always lorded an inordinate amount of power and dread over my imagination. There is certainly an argument to be made that this is the compromising effect of nostalgia causing my mind to reel to the less intellectually fortified time of my pre-teens, when superstition dominated over common sense more readily, but I still feel like the temperature drops the longer my eyes wander this photograph's surreal deadfall, avoiding the vacant gaze of whoever that woman is. With the onset of cynicism, as much safety net as it is foundation, adulthood blunts the emotional peaks of eeriness and other less quantifiable fear. My ongoing experience with this album cover is its utter indifference towards this effected self-certainty; it seems to know more about me than I do about it, the embarrassing lengths of this alleged certainty, that I scare easy, and how long it will take me to flinch. Every uncanny inch of it makes my skin crawl.

Shane Matthewson (KEN mode - drums): Propagandhi - Supporting Caste (2009): Painting by Kent Monkman - "The Triumph Of Mischief" (2007)

Art Corner: KEN mode discuss their favourite album coversThe artwork and layouts for Supporting Caste is all taken from one gigantic painting by Kent Monkman, a Canadian First Nations Artist. The piece is incredibly intricate and includes a ton of insane imagery (centaur lassoing, bear attacks, colonial settler sodomy). I really came to appreciate how immense this particular piece (7' x 11') is by seeing it in person at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta. This record also kicks major ass! KEN mode got to play the hometown record release show with Propagandhi back in 09.

Randy Ortiz (KEN mode – artwork + layouts): Alex Zhang Hungtai – Divine Weight (2018): Artwork by Inga Schunn & Alex Zhang Hungtai

Art Corner: KEN mode discuss their favourite album coversDivine Weight only came out a few months ago, but the cover feels as though I’ve seen this image countless times in my dreams. It immediately stirred the same feelings I have when recounting my experiences with sleep paralysis. Much like the music contained on the album, the cover is hauntingly beautiful. For a split second it causes the viewer to try and examine exactly what is going on, causing a struggle to align the features of the face into something that can be understood. Perhaps this is a suitable visual metaphor for the music itself. I admittedly was not aware of Alex Zhang Hungtai or Dirty Beaches, but the album cover alone caused me to delve into his music and in turn created a fan. To have an image move me this much and to have the music hit me the same way a moment later, that to me is an absolute success.

KEN mode (band choice): Dazzling Killmen – Face of Collapse (1994): Todd Harris – photography, Paul Nitsche – art direction, design

Art Corner: KEN mode discuss their favourite album coversOne of the most underrated albums of all time, and undoubtedly an influence over us both sonically and aesthetically. The colour palette and feel was one that we specifically wanted to conjure for our own Venerable album due to its bleak, organized/precise imagery, mixing photography with design to construct a very unique package. It is the perfect arrangement for such a masterpiece of an album, and the fact that the band went out on it only adds to their legend for us. It’s always kind of felt like the cover of a book that is meant to steal your life essence from you, possibly trapping you in its pages for all eternity. Perhaps that’s what Dazzling Killmen’s music was meant to do for people like us anyway?

KEN mode's new album, Loved, is out now. Listen to it below.