Killing Joke
MMXII


4.5
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
April 2nd, 2012 | 114 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Killing Joke delivers an end-of-times album full of carnage, disarray, paranoia…and just a little bit of hope.

Although the idea of a secretive, looming apocalypse has been a concern amongst conspiracy theorists and religious groups for centuries (if not millennia), there is an undeniable buzz around the year in which we currently reside. There were the failed predictions of Harold Camping on May 21, 2011, a phenomenon that gave rise to assertions that Christian literature’s foreshadowing of “false prophets” in the end of days finally came into fruition. The world has been rocked with one natural disaster after another, from tsunamis to deadly nuclear meltdowns. Tensions are palpable and it seems like every nation is at each other’s throats. And of course, you can’t forget what the Mayans, a civilization that spent the better part of its existence studying astrological patterns, predicted about December of this year. So what does all of this mean? Are we all doomed? Most sensible people would say no. There’s an explanation for everything: Camping maliciously exploited the foolish and/or was a fool himself, natural disasters always happen, the Mayans just ran out of fucking tablets to write on, and since when has the entire world not been fighting? Whatever your belief about 2012 is, however, it is nearly impossible not to be captivated by the sheer magnitude of the idea. What if this really is it? Killing Joke’s take on the subject seems to be something of a compromise. They believe that 2012 will bring about great change – it will be violent and possess a sense of finality, but ultimately, it will result in a better world. Cue MMXII, the band’s fifteenth studio album in thirty two years and an industrial juggernaut that is truly a sign of the times.

It wouldn’t be an apocalyptic album without an absolute epic hidden somewhere – and on MMXII, it is front and center stage. The nine minute opener, ‘Pole Shift’, is a devastatingly ominous electronic slow-burner, commencing with distant, thunderous explosions that suggest the upheaval is nigh. The title of the song is likely taken from the popularized theory that in 2012 the Earth with endure a massive shift in the geographic location of the poles and its axis of rotation, resulting in cataclysmic floods and earthquakes. As the song progresses, it paints a picture of such calamities: thrashing electric riffs from Geordie Walker, searing growls from Jaz Coleman, and multiple tempo changes all collaborate to compose an elaborate metaphorical symphony of sorts. Over the course of its nine minute duration, though, it never hurries. The entire track unwinds and unravels with a sinister patience, almost taking perverse pleasure in the suffering that is being depicted. The album continues its slow plod forward with ‘Fema Camp’, opting to create a feeling of disillusionment and emotional devastation instead of taking the expected route to a sky-high climax. This sense of balance makes its way through MMXII’s entire fabric, conveying the same level of urgency as its predecessor (Absolute Dissent) while diversifying musical approaches. The album eventually explodes in the way we have gotten used to hearing from Killing Joke, as ‘Rapture’ reintroduces the chugging, pulsating post-punk riffs that made their debut (and songs as recent as ‘The Great Cull’) so irresistible. Despite its overall simplicity, the abrasive and unrelenting rhythm arrives like a punch in the face – a welcome change from the more downtrodden approach taken in the opening two tracks.

After MMXII has made its initial impression, it never settles into a lull. This is an album that is constantly on the move – alternating genre styles, mixing up the intensity, and introducing one new theme after another. ‘In Cythera’ is a prime illustration, taking more of an alt-rock approach than Killing Joke perhaps ever has before and pulling it off exceptionally well. Coleman’s voice swims through an atmosphere of reverberated guitars and glimmering electronic effects to construct one of the most contemplative songs MMXII has to offer, and all without sacrificing the pervading sense of darkness that extends across the record’s entirety. ‘Primobile’ follows suit, but it feels noticeably angrier - gruff screams intermittently surface between the gorgeously sung verses, serving as an accurate portrayal of the discord that would surely ensue after the foretold chaotic events of late 2012. The guitar-heavy ‘Glitch’ sounds like hell on Earth, and that could very well be what Killing Joke was going for. ‘Trance’ bounces along to a sinister drum beat and heavily industrial electric groove, tempting its listeners to dance away their final days before seamlessly transitioning into MMXII’s melancholic farewell, ‘On All Hallow’s Eve’ – an ending truly worthy of this immense record. Just as if the end of the world was actually underway, there isn’t a single moment here worth looking away from.

MMXII marks one of Killing Joke’s greatest achievements, dating all the way back to their inception in 1978. The band’s unheard-of longevity pays dividends in the form of chemistry and a shared vision that allows the songwriting, instrumental execution, and lyrical themes to coexist on a level so profound that you’ll be left wondering why all bands aren’t this immersed in their work. The controversial and ever-captivating theme of the apocalypse only adds to the intrigue, as does the well-planned year of release. This is an album that should have a major impact on fans of industrial rock/post-punk, and its importance should not be overlooked. Make a point of hearing one of the angriest, most intelligent, and subtly hopeful albums of 2012…while you still can.



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Perhaps the joke's on them......


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


16414 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In many ways this feels thematically tied to Absolute Dissent...but this is even better.

Digging: Weezer - Everything Will Be Alright in the End

Ire
April 2nd 2012


41795 Comments


did potato make you do this?

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


16414 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

fuck no way

killing joke rules

KILL
April 2nd 2012


71957 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

only listened once through but yea rules

Digging: Exodus - Blood In, Blood Out

Ire
April 2nd 2012


41795 Comments


oh okay cool

good review

klap
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


10495 Comments


caesar really messed up the whole end times thing with his leap year

Digging: Caribou - Our Love

greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review as always. I agree. This album is awesome, better than the previous one for sure.

Digging: Dope Body - Lifer

Acanthus
April 2nd 2012


9543 Comments


Better than the previous huh? Cool, will get it.

Digging: The Knife - Deep Cuts

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


16414 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Ire, Greg.

Both albums are great but I think this one is more diverse with its styles/approaches. I'm excited to see what others think, it seems to be getting a wonderful reception so far.

Acanthus
April 2nd 2012


9543 Comments


Apparently there's alternative cover art on FB for this: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.350537938330931.96829.186566984728028&type=1

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


16414 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

none of them jumped out at me as particularly great so i guess the one they chose is fine

DoubtGin
April 2nd 2012


6752 Comments


love

band rules so much

greg84
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


7421 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's definitely more diverse and they aren't afraid to take a risk, which is always a plus in my book. Also, the production on this LP is great.

DoubtGin
April 2nd 2012


6752 Comments


first two tracks are so good

favourite 2012 release I think

Ending
April 2nd 2012


1917 Comments


4.5 from SS? Looks like I'm going to have to check this out.

Ending
April 2nd 2012


1917 Comments


Also great review as always.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


16414 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Ending.

I've always loved Killing Joke so I think your opinion could fluctuate like a whole point, but I don't see this being a poorly rated album for very many, if any at all.

AtomicShane
April 2nd 2012


1830 Comments


man,I thought this was about the graphic novel

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
April 2nd 2012


16414 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

What graphic novel?

AtomicShane
April 2nd 2012


1830 Comments


its like the most popular batman comic in existence but no big deal



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