Firstly, I have to say, this isn’t going to be an even handed review of Killing Joke’s latest album. I can’t not like everything they do. Well, almost. There were the perm years (1984 – 92 ) when to be honest, they were very crap. But apart from that… EVERYTHING!
Whilst I’d hate to limit any artist to a precise definition of what they are, I’m going to do it anyway. Killing Joke are an alchemic substance made of:
- the most deliciously distorted guitars – with no solos
- tribal drums – few cymbals
- synths with sounds nobody else would use
- loose and flappy funk bass
- repetitive, or mesmeric
- arse-rumbling vocals
… and so this album is a bit of departure. It’s more melodic than the previous album Absolute Dissent ( most of the time ) harking back at times to the Love Like Blood era with slightly syrupy pad synths sounds and single notes from Geordie Walker on guitar.
The opening track, Pole Shift is a wonderful 8mins 57seconds long! This is where Killing Joke should be heading, day long albums would suit me.
Fema Camp has echoes of the Glitter Band for me.. that sort of slow swaggering basic stuff.
The opening bars of Rapture are Requiem and Exorcism all over again… Synths set the scene and noise follows. Dancey. Love it. Similarly Colony Collapse, which (is this just me) sounds glam. I could imagine Gary Glitter ( the shit ) coming out stamping in diamante to this. I love the weirdly extended chorus vocal on this song – but it needed a mad harmony ( trust me Jaz ).
I don’t think I like In Cythera at all. I think it may because the lyrics are basically quiet thankfulness from an old man reflecting on life and ultimately, death. I probably have enough of that going in my own head. Killing Joke are my escape. It’s all just a bit too sentimental… like those moments where you know if you start crying you might never stop.
Primobile has a nicely doom laden synth… backed up with CHRISTMAS BELLS? What…
Glitch reuses an old Killing Joke riff. Which is a shame because I like the rest of the song.
Trance. I wonder what this would sound like with more old style Joke drumming from Big Paul? The song, particularly the bass line reminds me of really early Turn To Red era stuff – indicating that they “made it up on the spot”. Which is OK.
All Hallow’s Eve opens like a Rolf Harris number. I the lumbering rhythm with Jaz’s vocals at the end. But it sort of plods.
A New Uprising. Opens like all good Killing Joke songs should. Bonkers synth, joined by noise and Jaz’s growls.
Overall. This album doesn’t have enough bite for me, and when it’s soft, it’s not soft enough. Of course I like it but I’d struggle to pick two that I’d be happy slotting into regular Killing Joke gig. It’s not that I don’t want Killing Joke to never change and keep re-releasing their 2nd and 3rd albums in rehash form ( except that, deep down, we know I do ).
Given that Killing Joke seem to be ramping up their output, this is a great album. It doesn’t have to be perfect, I just have to go along with what they’re trying to achieve… And because I know ( Apocalypse willing ) that there’ll be another album next year… Sooner maybe…
So. Keep up the good work. Don’t make it better, just make it faster.