4/1/2011 - Review by: Ben McCraw
How would you define an amalgam? A mixture of punk, metal, and even electronica that not only excites, but provides a flowing artistic statement at the same time?
Such is Killing Joke. The persons and personalities that make up the band are as varied as the sound of the music itself. From long time vocalist Jaz Coleman, a well known composer for the Prague Symphony Orchestra, to bassist Martin "Youth" Glover, a famous producer in the U.K. who has worked with the likes of The Cult, The Verve, and Paul McCartney-just to name a few.
This album marks the first full-length collaboration between all four original members in over 25 years. Mind you, time has not phased this band one bit, rather, their creative fires are burning as bright as ever.
From the get-go, the first few moments of track no.1 "Absolute Dissent" with its free falling verse, conjure up ghastly images of some sort of abyss, but yet it is melodic enough to effectively pull you in for the rest of the album. And I was left to wonder, after this first endeavour--does it get much more punk than this? But being too presumptuous is a problem with this band, as anybody in their wide spectrum of fans knows, there is no simple way to describe what Killing Joke sound like, you have to listen for yourself. The writhing punk energy is carried over into the second track, with its gritty guitar riff giving rise to a rage driven chorus. Rebellion and dirty guitar work continue through "Fresh Fever From The Skies" until you arrive at my favorite track "In Excelsis", which is a nostalgic and extremely well crafted song, bringing to mind the best moments of the post-punk era of the 1980's. After this, the songs take on a more craftsman-like approach with track no. 5 "European Super State". This song takes an extremely optimistic look at the future of the European Union and coveys it with a dance/techno beat. This is but one of the styles the band has embraced over the years. The album takes yet another turn on the last track, the trance-like "Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove" that seems to blend elements from almost every other track with an ambiance and echo. Lasting for six and a half minutes, it effectively leads you out of the intensity that the album started with, and ends on a decidedly relaxed note.
Countless bands have cited Killing Joke as an influence and anyone familiar with the bands Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, or with Industrial music in general will definitely hear the similarities in track no. 6 "This World Hell", and track no. 10 "Depthcharge". In fact, the double-disc version of this album contains a full length CD with covers by 11 different artists, including Metallica's well-known cover of "The Wait", plus Fear Factory covering "Millennium", Helmet covering "Primitive" and a remix of "Democracy" by NIN.
Being a relatively young listener, or rather, a listener of a different generation than the KJ's original fans, I find it fascinating to hear the spring that so many of my favorite artists draw from. No matter how many different styles they use at any given time, it has never watered down their message of freedom. It is that element of rebellion that will always keep them classified as a punk band, but that is exactly the voice that so many people desperately need. To all the naysayers, I say--let the Killing begin!
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