Saturday, April 7, 2012

Killing Joke MMXII

I'm a gatherer. I am a fan of everything Killing Joke does. Maybe not unquestioningly so, maybe not equally a fan of everything, but I really do see the value in everything they do. Furthermore, I agree with the basic mindset the band espouses- we, in humanity, are on the brink. We might pull out of the death spiral we're in, we might not, but that might not be the most important thing. What might be the most important thing is that life continues. I believe in things seen and unseen. I have a spiritual side. I am half-godly and half beastly.
So,naturally I want to hear out the new record by Killing Joke. I know that the music will be awe-inspiring, because it always is. Musically, it's much more keyboard driven than the past few Killing Joke releases but retains the straightfoward guitar-riff based structure that Killing Joke has had since the Pandaemonium record. The harmonies are close, and modal- giving that "middle eastern" flair. The overall sound is perhaps less jagged, more of a midrange chug. Which means I really like it, but it's not the worldchanging tribal grind that I know Killing Joke can do. I think it's partially suffering from an odd choice in production- the mix brings up Jaz's "atmospheric" keyboards usually a bit higher than Geordie's guitar, and compresses the high end off the bass- meanwhile, Jaz is getting older, so I understand why they're adding a lot of extra processing to his voice- he always has a fair amount of echo, and doubles his vocals with pitches from the song- usually, again, those keyboards- but there's a lot more on this one. The problem with all this is that it gets more than a bit mushy. I'd really like to hear an unmastered mix, because the songs, themselves, are the Killing Joke I pay good money to import and I know that minus some of the production choices, the songs would be more what I expect.
The Lyrics are thought-provoking as always, and I know that while I'm open-minded, I'll disagree with about half of what Jaz believes. But, I have to get this out of the way- the Mayan Calendar stuff is completely laughable. It's an Apocalypse that deserves the Michael Bay styled CGI fest of a movie that it got. Seriously, the Y2K bug was more believable . However, Jaz, as always has his finger on a pulse- ably converting occult subjects such as Geomancy, The basic injustice of our Shock capitalism, Ecstatic trance states, Biotechnology, the Food Court, Solar Storms, and memorials into not only a coherent and compelling narrative, but sometimes into poetry. I cannot fully explain, but it boils down to this- you're either on the side of the Planet, or you're not, and it's surprising how many are not.
I cannot sum up the record, because I'm a gatherer. I treat Killing Joke records like they're Sacred. But I can describe the record a bit- it's less "Extremities" more "Brighter than a Thousand Suns", but of a piece with "Absolute Dissent". Play it very loud and decide for yourself, but know this- your favorite band probably likes Killing Joke almost as much as me, and there's a reason for that.


  1. I've been playing MMXII for the past few days and I am addicted. This is my first Killing Joke record and I have no idea why I haven't heard of them before. Nice review btw

    1. Patrick, welcome to the Gatherers ( it's what Killing Joke fans call themselves) and I hope you have access to the band's back catalogue, as it's quite deep, with many, many riches. The band's output is extremely diverse, so do listen before you buy, as people tend to prefer either the more "heavy" output, or the more "Pop" element. I'm not sure where you are, but Killing Joke had some "hits", in the UK, in the 1980's (Love like Blood, and Eighties, mostly) and were considered really seminal for American bands in the 1990s - Metallica covered them, Nirvana stole one of their riffs, and Prong nicked their bass player. Jaz Coleman, the singer, is noted in "classical" music circles for his work adapting British hard rock to symphonic arrangements, and works out of New Zealand and Prague as both a farmer and conductor. So, there are multiple reasons to give Killing Joke a decent chance. Personally, my favourite Killing Joke LP's are the self-titled first LP, What's THIS for?, Revelations, and Absolute Dissent, but the majority of people either really like their heavy LPs, like Extremities, Dirt, etc, and the 2003 self titled record, or they like the top of the Pops records- Fire Dances, Night Time, and Brighter than a thousand Suns. Anyway that you go, you're sure to find something valuable, though. Also, glad if you like the review, feel free to comment any time.

    2. Oh, and BTW, you wouldn't happen to be Patrick Rousseau the sound engineer? If so, nice to talk to you, again- we worked together a couple of times in the late 1980's- How's Quebec treating you?
      If not, quite alright, but you've got a famous name in certain circles.

  2. Awesome a Gatherer...I have the exact same sentiments and I'm a writer and you pinned exactly how I feel about KJ as well as MMXII. I couldn't have written it's like your pssyche psychic!

  3. Thanks, Anthony. Humbly, I'd suggest that I'm more reading a current than reading anyone's mind. Such a thought, a simple idea....