Review Summary: An excellent return to form for a band running on fumes.
After the mixed reception of 1988’s Outside the Gate
, it became apparent to Jaz and the rest of the Killing Joke crew that a change in style was needed to keep the band relevant and their sound fresh. Seeing the popularity that bands such as Ministry were receiving in the late 80’s, Killing Joke decided to combine their post-punk roots with hints of industrial music for their eighth studio album, Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions
, resulting in a tightly played and extremely atmospheric post-punk album.
Like with most of Killing Joke’s albums, Extremities
is strange and highly atmospheric. This unique atmosphere can immediately be heard on the album opener, “Money Is Not Our God” where the song begins with heavily distorted guitar riffs that pick away over mid tempo punk drumming and excellent bass-work. The song continues along as Jaz sings the verses with his distinct voice, eventually building until he shouts the name of the song. As the track continues, industrial noises play behind the music while sounds of laughing and pocket change can be heard before the vocals come back in and the song continues in a similar vein. This first song sets the tone for the rest of Extremities
perfectly. The entire album utilizes the aforementioned industrial sound effects, punk drumming, and distorted riffing for most of its duration.
That’s not to say the album doesn’t change speed at times to add variety. The song “Inside the Termite Mound” is the slowest on the album and is heavily influenced by industrial music, while the title track to the album is the fastest on Extremities
and even utilizes blast beats, which were becoming quite popular in metal music at the time. Aside from that, some of the songs also have atmospheric intros, like “Solitude”, which begins with a melodic keyboard section and the song “Intravenous” which begins with heavily distorted middle eastern sounding guitar playing akin to the style that Killing Joke would follow this album up with on Pandemonium
Another interesting aspect of the album is the political and social commentary found in the album's lyrics. The album’s lyrics are highly critical of capitalist society on most, if not all of the songs. Tracks such as “The Age of Greed” also start with satirical samples of advertising to go along with the lyrics and atmosphere. The lyrics are very well written and, whether the listener agrees with the bands viewpoints or not, they are a strong point that adds even more depth to an already complex album.
Much like Pandemonium
is best listened to as a cohesive work rather than by just picking out random songs. The atmosphere stays consistent through the albums entire 65 minute run-time and never falters once. All of the tracks on the album are excellent and play an important part in the albums structure. As far as negative aspects go, the album can get tiring at times if the listener is not in the right head-space for it, but aside from that the album is superb. I would highly recommend Extremities
for any curious fans of Killing Joke or industrial music.