Killing Joke – [Album]

Friday, 27 April 2012

I was perfectly satisfied when Killing Joke released Absolute Dissent in 2010. Actually, I was grateful for the triumphant return of such a seminal band after their nearly thirty-year absence. Okay, let’s face it, I would feel fortunate to experience only half of their eight or so albums from 1980-1989. I never imagined that I would be able to enjoy a new chapter of Killing Joke and that it would be as good as it was. To be able to appreciate Absolute Dissent is why I wish I could hear albums for the first time all over again; to ask for more would just be greedy, right?

After decades of dense, frenetic music filled with attitude, social commentary and passion, Killing Joke could have just been satisfied with their accomplishments too. Leaving Absolute Dissent as their epitaph would have been a blistering way to go out. Stylistically diverse track-to-track yet still unmistakably Killing Joke, MMXII reinforces the fact that KJ is not planning to go away and they’re not going to do it quietly. Seemingly fueled by new creativity and relentless energy, Jaz, Kevin 'Geordie' Walker, Martin 'Youth' Glover and Paul Ferguson have returned with an absolute tempest of an album.  

Continuing with their post-punk roots while embracing an industrial-rock sound, the DNA of Killing Joke is unmistakably present. Based loosely on the interpretations of the Mayan calendar and its apocalyptic predictions for December 21st of 2012, MMXII is as intelligent as it is thunderous. While subject matter such as this could easily become tired and hackneyed, Jaz and the gang manage to find sincerity in an implausible setting. Powerful rhythms and intense leads are well and good but I really wish more music had this much depth, resolve and character to back it up. The album opens with “Pole Shift” which describes the supposed demise of the planet due to the shifting of the magnetic poles. How a nearly nine-minute, searing treatise about global destruction could be both bleak and uplifting is confounding. As the music surges and wanes, Coleman’s voice follows, creating fluid, almost tidal washes of sound. Throughout, Walker’s guitar is the perfect counterpoint to Coleman’s snarls, drones, whispers and screams. Other standout tracks include the psalm-like “Colony Collapse,” the expressive solace of the first single “In Cythera” as well as the aptly-titled “Rapture” which sounds like a nod to Rammstein but without the bare-chested circus gimmickry.

There is a recurring thematic call-to-arms throughout MMXII: although 2012 will be violent, apocalyptic and filled with cataclysm and colossal change, it is all for the best. To have a better world, the one we currently live in must first be dismantled and destroyed. The end-of-days will be just the catalyst to allow the survivors to start anew. While political rage and doomsday rhetoric is great fuel for powerfully epic music, some of the tirades can be a bit overwrought, paranoid and driven by visions of conspiracy. A five-minute rant, for example, levels harsh accusations against and draws sobering parallels to the “Fema Camp.”

“It’s a time of unrest and your rights are suspended
There’s a list going round (and it’s likely you’re on it)
The names on the blue list are picked up later
And the red list goes to the incinerator.”     

Along with their nihilistic images, Killing Joke also takes a stab at corporate gluttony but with a bit more insight than the current “ADD generation” of self-indulgent, iPhone-wielding activists who fancy themselves as the have-nots. Instead of attacking corporations for their pursuit of wealth, “Corporate Elect” is a reflection on how our own indifference to this greed could be our greatest downfall as “we all got fooled again.” Whether you subscribe to his beliefs or not, Coleman’s message is encapsulated in music which is difficult to ignore.

Sometimes being better known as influential foundations and inspirations to other bands, Killing Joke’s sheer tenacity has transcended that role and proves that they still have something to say. MMXII seems like a natural next step to follow Absolute Dissent, musically and ideologically. I never imagined that doom would make me this happy.



will be released on May 1, 2012 by Spinefarm/Universal. Pre-order it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.