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Album Review

by Killing Joke


Review Date
3rd November 2015
Reviewed by
Rangi Powick

Pioneering act Killing Joke has just released Pylon, their 15th album in a career coming up to its 40th year. Heralded as icons of post-punk and industrial music, Killing Joke has had a huge impact on the more progressive side of rock 'n' roll, influencing artists as diverse as LCD Soundsystem, My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails and Kate Bush.

Pylon is the third of a triptych of albums that encompasses Absolute Dissent (2010) and MMXII (2012), and features the reformed original lineup of Jaz Coleman, Martin “Youth” Glover, Kevin “Geordie” Walker and “Big” Paul Ferguson. All three albums cohere with a tone that is heavy and uncompromising, full of bleak dystopian lyrics that reflect on the many things that have gone wrong in modern society. On Pylon, titles like 'War on Freedom' and the lyrics from the first single 'I Am The Virus' ram the point home: “Death misery and tears / calculated waves of fear / drawn up by think tanks / there’s a darkness in the west”.

While Killing Joke has always been able to conjure vivid apocalyptic visions, their songs also express a resolute belief in the liberating power of the human spirit to triumph over darkness and oppression. This celebratory humanism is one of the things that make Killing Joke unique. The opening track 'Autonomous Zone' is a call to escape from the technocratic tyranny of modern life and return to nature: “Living off the Grid / no more phones / no drones”, and the aforementioned 'I Am The Virus' contains a rallying cry for personal integrity against the forces that would rather have citizens live in fear: “I am the fury / the spirit of outrage … I am the furnace / where resentment glows”. Set against a muscular musical background of danceable tribal rhythms, driving bass, open-chord guitar distortion and ominous keyboards the album is as powerful in sound as it is in lyrical vision.

It seems almost inconceivable that Killing Joke would still be releasing music with the same authenticity and vigour that initially garnered them acclaim. However Pylon represents not only the conclusion to a musical trilogy but also a late renaissance for a band that shows no sign of slowing down or getting old. Long live Killing Joke.


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