Jun 2012 25

Killing Joke - MMXIIKilling Joke
Category: Industrial Rock / Experimental
Album: MMXII
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: A strong entry in the Killing Joke discography that may perhaps be too reminiscent of the band’s past, but a strong entry all the same.


When any artist maintains a steady if not outright prolific flow of output over the course of several years, it is not surprising that certain ideas and motifs will recur over time to create identifiable signatures. Such is the case with Killing Joke, the seminal post-punk collective whose music has over three decades incorporated and influenced everything from synthpop to industrial to metal and all points in between. The reunion of the band’s original lineup with 2010’s Absolute Dissent demonstrated a raucous vitality that MMXII exhibits in a less raw, more polished, but no less vibrant manner. All the hallmarks of Killing Joke are presented on this album, which in some ways makes it predictable in its eccentricity of style, though never lacking in substance or potency.

With the ethereal ambience of “Pole Shift” opening the album, MMXII immediately comes across as a much more synth-heavy affair than the past several records thanks to the engineering and programming of the band’s live keyboardist Reza Udhin. The slow buildup of soundscapes evokes a world in turmoil befitting the album’s end times atmosphere, but it is not until the gritty urgency of the chorus – epitomized by Jaz Coleman’s virulent growl, Martin “Youth” Glover’s strident bass rhythms, Kevin “Geordie” Walker’s piercing guitar noise, and Paul Ferguson’s precision drumming – that the Killing Joke aesthetic is on full attack. By the time the anthemic march of “Fema Camp” begins, the album is already in its stride as Coleman’s sociopolitical diatribes resonate with seething power, while “Rapture” plays as soundtrack to the apocalypse with its equally monotonous and incendiary attitude of fiery synth sequences and scathing guitar fury. The same can be said of tracks like “Colony Collapse” and “Corporate Elect,” the song titles themselves already conveying themes of anti-capitalism and political unrest, the music as ever drawing on the band’s ritualistic modes of danceable percussive assaults and chugging, almost chant-like guitar and bass rhythms, the keyboards cutting through the mix to add just the right amount of electronic flavor. “Glitch” blasts out pure rock & roll fury that spares no moment for the listener to breathe, while “Trance” races by with tribal rhythms and series of ascending and descending guitar and bass line that with Coleman’s almost despairing melodic tone live up to the track’s title.

There is a certain delight in recognizing the crucial elements of a band’s sound in action and tracing them to key points in the past. The expansive nature of the songs is certainly reminiscent of such past albums as Hosannas from the Basements of Hell or 2003’s Killing Joke, while the sheer volume and grittiness at play brings to mind the band’s formative years. Similarly, the heavy accentuation of synthesizers throughout recalls the industrial rock of Millennium, and the almost mournful and ghostly melodies of “In Cythera” or closing track “On All Hallow’s Eve” could easily have been found on Brighter than a Thousand Suns. Of course, some could easily dismiss these similarities as the results of steadily running the well of ideas dry, but this would discount the purity of Killing Joke’s inimitable sound and style. As well, the poignancy of the lyrics touching on the band’s time honored themes of environmental, educational, economical, and ecological concerns are as relevant now as they were more than 30 years ago when the band first appeared. For all of this, MMXII is at the very least, a strong and solid album if not an original one.
Track list:

  1. Pole Shift
  2. Fema Camp
  3. Rapture
  4. Colony Collapse
  5. Corporate Elect
  6. In Cythera
  7. Primobile
  8. Glitch
  9. Trance
  10. On All Hallow’s Eve

Killing Joke Website http://www.killingjoke.com
Killing Joke Myspace http://www.myspace.com/killingjokeofficial
Killing Joke Facebook https://www.facebook.com/killingjokeofficial
Killing Joke Twitter https://twitter.com/Killingjokeband
Spinefarm Records U.K. Website http://www.spinefarmrecords.co.uk
Spinefarm Records U.K. MySpace http://www.myspace.com/spinefarmrecordsuk
Spinefarm Records U.K. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/spinefarmrecordsuk
Spinefarm Records U.K. Twitter https://twitter.com/spinefarm
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon Vinyl
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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