What Killing Joke has always been proficient at, is walking the line between various and contradicting genres. Take, for instance, their self-titled (2003) album. ‘The Death & Resurrection Show’, which starts off the album, leaves the listener in complete confusion. At first it seems like a hard rock song with its extremely simple chugging riffs and clean vocals, but it soon bursts into post-punk with obscure half-growled half-sung vocals – don’t expect the album to suddenly make sense after the first song, it only becomes more confusing and intriguing. Remember that this is both a post-punk and industrial rock album – with this in mind, the listening experience will make some semblance of sense. Second in line is ‘Total Invasion’, where the lead vocalist does his best to sound demon-possessed; it’s an irritatingly awkward number that is only saved by the powerhouse of a chorus – right from the get go, Killing Joke clearly intend to do whatever they want, and they couldn’t care less if their music disturbs you.
When ‘Asteroid’ thunders down, Killing Joke pick up the pace. Blasts of guitars, drums, and blistering vocals crudely crash together in an uncompromising, beat-conscious, loud, and all-together exciting experience. ‘Implant’ follows in the same upbeat fashion, and then so does ‘Blood On Your Hands’. You would think the band would grow tired at this point, but instead, the jarring ‘Loose Cannon’ bursts in with the plainly ingenious chorus (full caps intended): I’M A LOOSE CANNON, I’M A LOOSE CANNON. So there you go, tracks three to six are all superb, and show the band at their strongest since their classic album, Night Time. Unfortunately, everything else seems weaker when compared to these bruising songs. No songs are necessarily poor (expect for the boring ‘Dark Forces’), but with their best songs all lined up at the front, Killing Joke set the listeners up for eventual disappointment.
Although ‘You’ll Never Get Me’ is refreshingly bright, ‘Seeing Red’ is in the same light but better, so the latter is the one to listen to. As these songs attest to, the end of the album is crowded with attempts at epic melodies, but they are nowhere near epic. Killing Joke had a good thing going with the untamed aggression of the first half, so why they would toss it in the second half for drab melodies is beyond me - they’re not very good at them. Killing Joke are best when they do the creepy, when their industrial noises clash with their post-punk structure. Although often frightening, being frightened in this case is much better than being bored or remaining indifferent. Killing Joke have released a crude album, something completely unheard of, for better or for worse, and it demands to be heard.
- Blood On Your Hands
- Loose Cannon
- The House That Pain Built
Have you heard their new one? If so, how does this compare in sound because that one is cool. Also, good review (I don't know about this Pizzamachine trademark summary stuff or of any usual panache and/or flair), so whatever ;)
Love your avatar Trey. Anyways, I haven't forgotten about you MizzaPachine! I've been busy lately, but I'll get around to reading any other reviews I might have missed from you. I enjoyed reading this, and I'm not entirely sure what Irving is talking about... lol. But yeah, good review, keep up the good work bud.