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Album Review

by Killing Joke


Review Date
23rd May 2012
Reviewed by
Ricardo Kerr

Two years ago we witnessed the resurrection of the mighty Killing Joke. Although they have been releasing an album every few years for some time now they seemed to be running on fumes and goodwill since the early 90s. After the hellacious comeback album that was Absolute Dissent – with original line-up in tow - many were left wondering if it was all too good to be true. Could these goth / post-punk / metal / industrial pioneers stay the course and continue to function as a cohesive unit or, like many other bands that have followed a similar career trajectory, would Killing Joke dissolve back into the void from whence they came? Their latest album is MMXII and while the name might lead you to believe that Killing Joke have embraced the end of all things, it actually represents new beginnings and a myriad of exciting possibilities.

Does all of this sound as though the iconic band has gone soft and forgotten where they came from? Far from it! The burning rage is still there (as on ‘Corporate Elect’) but their status as elder statesmen has afforded them the ability to express it with a sly and knowing grin. Their trademark reckless abandon is matched with a measure of wisdom and introspection. The album’s lead single ’In Cythera’ reads (and sounds) quite like a love song with singer Jaz Coleman crooning “I’m grateful for all the times we shared” in lovelorn gothic lord mode. Just around the corner though are songs like the aggravated ‘Glitch’ and ‘Trance’ to remind you that they are no mere one (or two or three) trick ponies. The latter track in particular shows the band’s pedigree and lineage well; you can hear echoes of the bands that have made careers out of riding their prodigious coattails such as Skinny Puppy, Nine Inch Nails, and Depeche Mode. All of this from a band with more than their fair share of personal tragedies is truly something to behold. Nowhere is this better highlighted than on album closer ‘On All Hallows Eve’. The song is written as a tribute to fallen member Paul Raven and finds the band indulging wholeheartedly in the majesty of their 80s heyday.

MMXII is a far more cohesive listening experience than Absolute Dissent ever was. The songs follow on logically from one another rather than jar and jostle quite the way that tracks like 'This World Hell' and 'European Super State' did on that album – constantly bouncing you from one idea to the next. Despite having an album with a name as weighted as MMXII (2012, a very contentious year if you believe the doom mongers and gullible), it has moments that hint at a bright future. In the early 80s I cannot imagine that anyone saw a long and fruitful future for Killing Joke. These days we are still getting albums from them that remind us how lucky we are to have them around. They can boast a late-career golden age that few could hope for but perhaps the best is still yet to come. What lies on the other side of 2012 for Killing Joke? Only time will tell.


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