Album Review

Absolute Dissent

Absolute Dissent

by Killing Joke

8.2 / 10
2nd November 2010

Reviewed by Ricardo Kerr

Are we living in apocalyptic times? I personally would have said ‘no’, at least I would have before hearing Absolute Dissent the new album from industrial / goth / metal legends Killing Joke. Now, to be honest, I’m not sure. Such is the brooding evil inherent in this opus that it infects everything around it. Not since Minstry’s The Last Sucker has an album prophesised such darkness with such conviction. Even if you don’t believe in the imminent end times one cannot help but wonder. Promoted largely on the fact that it is the first proper album featuring the original Killing Joke line up in 28 years is a sure fire way to draw interest from long-time fans and people interested in dipping their toe in the KJ water alike. Fortunately for both groups this album feels almost like a summary of their entire career packed into one hour-long doomfest. Bring on the Killing Joke!

The title track and album opener Absolute Dissent heralds the return of the glorious riff coupled with Jazz Coleman’s gregorio-metal vocals making some eerie harmonies amongst the head banging. Everything is dialled up to 11 leaving the mix so wonderfully saturated you just might bleed a little. Even from the opening notes you can feel the favourable comparisons to both their contemporaries (Ministry, Skinny Puppy) and followers (Fear Factory, Nine Inch Nails) alike. Along with The Great Cull, Fresh Fever From the Skies, and In Excelsis, the title track ushers in a quartet of bruisers similar to their previous two albums (Killing Joke 2003 & Hosannas From the Basement of Hell) yet somehow more vital than anything they brought to the table. Perhaps it is the reignited chemistry between the original Killing Joke crew, or perhaps they feel as though they have something important to say for the first time in quite a while.

The first curveball the band pitches at the listener enters at track five, the first official single European Super State, full of icy synths reminiscent of their work in the mid 80s (1985s Night Time came particularly to mind). Its proximity to the juggernaut of the previous songs might make such a number look timid whereas defiant would be a more accurate assessment. Defiant of age (it seriously sound like a lost 80s gem), defiant of expectations, and perhaps even defiant of common sense. It is not the only time that this retro-futuristic approach is taken as it appears later in the form of The Raven King. Before the listener can get entirely into the groove of this wonderful throwback mood they meet This World Hell, which spews forth ugly power chords and chaotic overtures. Does anyone doubt Jazz Coleman when he screams about ‘Choking with disgust’? Such is the fervour that the entire band can muster. This song is not so much a battle march or a call-to-arms as much as it is the whole damned apocalypse raining down upon us all. Killing Joke also manage to wear their original post-punk roots on their sleeve on Here Comes the Singularity, a tasty slab of gothic hardcore complete with grinding guitars and a loose, low-slung bassline. By the time album closer, the dubby Ghost of Ladbroke Grove, fades out you would be hard pressed to find an album to play next that casts such vivid shadows of doom and dread.

Absolute Dissent is less primitive than 2003’s self titled album and less arcane than Hosannas from the Basement of Hell and all in all one hell of a ride to hell itself. It is a brilliantly vicious album in its own right as well as another rung in The Joke’s legacy of sonic destruction. They never truly went away but they are definitely back and out for blood.

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