Jaz Coleman, Geordie, Youth and Big Paul Ferguson are back with the 16th album by their incarnation – Killing Joke.
Let’s get one thing straight… Killing Joke are fucking great and before you leave this mortal coil, everyone should have at least taken in some of their music, because quite frankly, it is timeless music from a band who have something to say that is always just so sodden relevant to the world around us. Everything that makes you angry about the world is on here, whether it be banks, governments, wars, greed, struggles and so on, Jaz Coleman in his doctrine has it covered. This music is a release to all the things that attempt to tie you down.
Best way to experience this is to actually get out and witness their live shows, which are cauldrons of intense release of primitive energy and anger at the craziness and stupidity of the world around us. Sometimes it just amplifies just pure anger fronted by Coleman, who is normally decked out in war paint like some crazed nutter who just stepped out of some abyss. A band who still commands a loyal following wherever they play an almost call to share in communion, a pull to be there, to ensure you don’t miss the rapture.
For a band who began its existence from the flames of punk in London 1978, the chaps are more than a three-chord punk outfit. Throughout their existence their music has stood the test of time. The conjuror and intimidating Jaz Coleman can be found heading up Killing Joke and then the next he is conducting orchestras in Prague. Geordie Walker is one of the most legendary and distinctive guitarists along with Will Sergeant (Echo and the Bunnymen) and Billy Duffy (The Cult). This trio continues to influence the rank and file of guitarists. Then there is bassist Youth who is one of the most accomplished producers; his previous works have included albums by Verve, Pink Floyd, James, The Orb, Depeche Mode and so on. Big Paul Ferguson is the bearskin beater, one of the best drummers around, especially within the industrial punk world and also appeared in the Murder Inc. project in the ‘90s, which brought together members from PIL, Revolting Cocks, Ministry and Pigface. Finally, the fifth member of the group is Reza Udhin, who further fronts his own bands Inertia and Black Volition.
Produced in their studios in Prague and the U.K., Pylon is another great addition to the KJ catalogue with more than a nod back to the sound produced in previous albums.
The album kicks off with “Autonomous Zone”, which feels like a continuation of the previous couple of KJ albums. The track boasts some almost Red Hot Chili Pepper ‘slapping’ bass guitar type riffs (something never heard on a KJ offering before!) whilst consistent member of the band Reza Udhin adds a Middle Eastern swirling keyboard.
“Dawn of the Hive” is a brutal industrial track that pounds with a heavy guitar riff from Geordie Walker and menacing drumming from Ferguson. “New Cold War” allows for the sermon from Jaz Coleman to come over loud and clear with his band easing back, so only return with intensive choruses, as though desperation and panic are the order of the day. We are being warned of previous mistakes and last time Jaz disappeared off to Iceland to avoid the possible coming apocalypse.
“Euphoria” is hymn-like with far calmer vocals from Coleman with his voice echoing as though recorded in a cathedral, which is possible, given the band once recorded tracks previously in Egyptian pyramids. “New Jerusalem”, meanwhile, features chopping menacing guitars from Geordie Walker with rolling drums from Ferguson; it is a huge blockbuster of a wall of sound, well distasted and conducted by Coleman. “War on Freedom” takes the listener in a slightly different direction with Walker exploring a less ‘heavy’ sound on his guitar and a more akin sound to the Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary”.
In 1985 KJ released Night Time, which spawned one of the bands commercially successful tracks “Love Like Blood”, and so with “Big Buzz” KJ again prove that they can tap into a wide horizon of music styles, but still retaining that no messing punk ethic. This song could be played in the clubs; KJ again capable now and in the past of creating music to dance to and this is one for singing along to.
“Delete” brings back heavy guitar riffs, but is nothing in relation to ”I Am the Virus”, a full on onslaught of noise and terror, with KJ smashing through full pelt, destroying all in it’s path. Coleman is away, in his element spitting anger with classic lyrics making it clear on his views. Special mention for the Central Bank who he describes as “mind-fucking omnipotence.” Proceeding are brought to a conclusion with “Into The Unknown”, which transports back to 1986’s Brighter Than a Thousand Suns album.
Killing Joke now take the album along with their impressive back catalogue onto the road with extensive dates across, the U.K. and North America. Time to wake up and see ‘The Joke’ live, it will open your eyes.