Review Summary: Perhaps the joke's on them...
Killing Joke polarise opinion. It's an inescapable fact. For nigh on 30 years the band have been riffing off of this truth; fans have never quite known what to expect from their next release. Punk to post-punk to tribal rock... Goth, 80's hair-pop to industrial metal. You name it and they've probably had a crack at it somewhere down the line. And yet, despite the genre hopping over the years, they still have an unmistakable sound, an undefinable essence.
MMXII is a monster of an album. it isn't long (about 50 minutes), yet the weight of it's subject matter pushes itself on the listener, forcing them to take notice. There's also a sheen to the production not seen on a Killing Joke album since 2003's self titled effort. And yet, despite the full sounding nature of the record, there seems to be something missing.
MMXII isn't a bad album. Geordie Walker's trademark buzz saw guitars are present, Big Paul's drum's batter their way through the album, and Coleman's venomous vocals are sounding better than ever. There's some flashes of brilliance on the MMXII, but that's part of the issue. There just aren't enough.
This isn't easy to say - this writer being a die-hard fan - but MMXII feels rushed; it's the sound of too little ideas being stretched too far. Songs often feel overlong and padded out, the opener, 'Pole Shift' being a perfect example. It can sometimes be a real effort to keep from pushing the skip button.
MMXII could have benefited from some serious editing. The Joke are supposed to be uncompromising, but not boring. That said, the good material that is here is very, very good. Rapture is a whale of a tune that fully shows off what the Killing Joke of 2012 can sound like. Fema Camp features a behemoth of a riff - it could almost have been taken straight off of Pandemonium.
Some might say that this album is a grower. Having given this album several months to sink in, there seems to be little truth to this statement. One dares to imagine this is the band finally sounding as old as they are, running out of things to say. Let's hope not, Killing Joke deserve the last laugh.