With Killing Joke now being elder statesmen of the music world, they could be forgiven if they decided to tone it down a wee bit and opt for a more sedate and mellow approach to their musical journey.
However, like you, I’m praying this will be as frenetic and inspired as “Pandemonium”, “Democracy” or “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns”, when I hit play on the new offering from Coleman and co.
These fellas have been doing this since the late 70’s and have produced some truly classic albums in that time, so it’s with a genuine sense of trepidation that I put the headphones on and turn it up to almost eleven.
Kicking off with “Pole Shift”, which is somewhat slower and moodier than we have come to expect from a Killing Joke opener, we are treated to a stunning welcome back, with Jaz‘s voice sounding as strong as ever and the rhythm section of Youth and Paul Ferguson locking in tightly behind.
“Fema Camp” simmers with restrained aggression, the guitar becoming more prominent and signalling the steady, snarling ascent of this album. Whilst “MMXII” sounds mature and almost refined to begin with, there is no mistaking that dark undercurrent of malevolence that runs through it, building uneasily and inexorably towards the punch.
And so it greets us – the head-pounding, battering ram overdrive that they have always turned out with such great aplomb. “Corporate Elect” and “Glitch” possess that lovely metronomic assault synonymous with what we in the pigeon-holing game love to refer to as “industrial” music, but with the no-nonsense ascerbic punk flair that the likes of Jourgensen and Reznor could never quite replicate.
“In Cythera” features some stellar playing and serves as a fine reminder of what a woefully overlooked and underrated guitarist Geordie Walker really is, as does the doleful, untidy, but rather beautiful dirge of “Primobile”.
Uncle Jaz is as commanding as ever in his delivery and remains a master lyricist, seemingly feeling every vowel of every single word that bellows forth. Occasionally I think I know what he’s on about, but let’s face it – I probably don’t. He paints a picture as he sings and if ever we glimpsed it I suspect we’d be utterly baffled and bemused.
Closer “On All Hallow’s Eve” is an absolute blinder – an encore of immensely satisfying proportions and one I hope will be a regular feature in their live set.
And with that – it’s over. Those fifty minutes really did fly by and that can only mean one thing; return to the start and listen to it all over again. And again. Shit, these guys are so good at what they do that it makes you wonder why most other bands bother.
In 2012, Killing Joke remain peerless. They still emanate that wonderful aura of controlled chaos; a million conflicting musical ideas and lunatic theories all just about held together in the confines of a CD that bursts at the seams with verve and originality.
I’ve often wondered when bomb disposal experts use the term “a controlled explosion” what that actually means. Surely any explosion, by its very nature, is unrestrained and violent? Having heard this album I think I now get it.
Never contrived, never forced and never predictable, Killing Joke are a force majeure and I, for one, hope they never ever stop.