Here are how I characterize the different musical modes:
Ionian or Major – Bright and joyful.
Aeolian or Minor – Sad and oppressive.
Dorian – Sad but hopeful. Like the minor scale but with a slight difference that is the raised 6th note (the Dorian 6th).
Phrygian – Dark and tension-filled. Great for heavy metal, flamenco and jazz. It has an oriental and Spanish feel to it.
Lydian – Mystical and mainly used in jazz. It is a major scale with a raised 4th.
Mixolydian – Blues, rock, jazz, and funk use this one. Similar to the major scale in feel, but with a bit of a difference.
Locrian – Unstable and tense is the Locrian scale’s forte. It has a dissonance to it.