|Killing Joke - 'MMXII' (Spinefarm Records)|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Monday, 02 April 2012 05:15|
Killing Joke are a band that instantly sends some of my colleagues here at URHQ running to the hills screaming "Eskimo" whenever their name is uttered. This is largely due to the UK post punk legends fateful appearance opening for Motley Crue in U.K arenas back in June 2005 proving perhaps to be a crossover a little too much for some. Recalling memories of said tour not long before his untimely passing, the band's then bassist Paul Raven dubbed the tour "a fucking joke" and one they "really hated". I actually only went to see Killing Joke on that series of shows, as they hadn't played Cardiff in a while, and the chance to see them performing tracks from their superb 'Killing Joke' album live was not going to be passed up. However let's just say that night even I was left scratching my head.
Seven years on from that Red, White And Crude (sic) live experience, MMXII (the year) sees Killing Joke's original line up back in the studio following up their Uber Rock Recommended 'Absolute Dissent' album with 'MMXII' (the album), promising more of the classic Killing Joke sound in a run up to what their frontman Jaz Coleman is proclaiming to be the end of the world (albeit some might argue he's actually already been there on that aforementioned tour).
Recorded, written and produced by the band themselves just like its colossal predecessor, this time around Jaz Coleman, Youth, Geordie and Paul Ferguson decided on utilising studios based in Prague and Spain due to the energy lines that connect them making the traumatic, bleak, black experience of recording the album's decade of tracks just that little bit more "special". However what they have actually achieved here within the grooves of 'MMXII', quite frankly I'm still trying to get my head around.
Opening track 'Pole Shift' certainly doesn't make my lot in life an easy task that's for sure, sitting somewhere between the keyboard intro to Bon Jovi's 'Livin' On A Prayer' and October File (a band who do an excellent Killing Joke by the way) soundwise this 9 minute epic is a slow burner of ludicrous proportions, whether it is the ideal opener for 'MMXII' well, I'll leave that up to you to decide, one thing is for sure though and that is it certainly sets out the band's stall very early on.
Next up is 'Fema Camp' and this is much more what I was expecting from the Led Zeppelin of the punk movement, a direct hit between the eyes built around a spiralling Geordie Walker riff, this is menacing stuff maximised by a distorted/echo vocal line from Jazz that immediately makes you remember where Perry Farrell acquired a lot of his repertoire from.
Continuing in the more "full on" sonic assault mode that Killing Joke seem to embrace as their modus operandi these days 'Rapture' and 'Corporate Elect' sandwich the first half of 'MMXII's' most commercial track 'Colony Collapse', a track that whilst retaining a mammoth like heaviness finally throws a chorus into the mix and ends up sounding not unlike what Marilyn Manson thinks his new stuff sounds like (but doesn't).
Which leads me rather nicely into 'In Cythera' the album's first single, and when Killing Joke are this good they really are unstoppable, I simply cannot stop playing this track, a bit like when I first heard 'European Super State' from 'Absolute Dissent'. This rich vein of songwriting form continues with 'Primobile', a song that beckons you in rather than simply prodding you in the eyes with sharpened sticks, and this again for yours truly is where Killing Joke exceed all expectations.
'Glitch' cranks things back up to 11 once more in a post industrial stomp that bizarrely manages to sound like Ministry covering the 'Only Fools And Horses' theme tune, well on the verses at least. Someone please tell me I am not the only one to hear this as eight tracks into an album as intense as 'MMXII', my sanity is starting to become just a little bit frayed around the edges, And this is something I have to take into account once more as is that really Youth launching into the Bernard Edwards influenced funky bass line for the engaging thrust of 'Trance'? "Nurse!!! Nurse!!!"
Thankfully things calm down and my medication is not required for the album's closing track 'On All Hallows Eve' which is the type of tune Goldfrapp have made a million dollars out of, by simply electrifying a glam rock stomp, here in Jaz Coleman's hands the glam rock in question is played by a band of zombies and drenched in gothic overtones making for a sombre end to a cataclysmic album (and perhaps the world as we know it?)
Look people of Uber Rock "I love Killing Joke" they are an essential band in the make up of my musical development, and this is certainly not a bad album by any stretch of the imagination, however whether 'MMXII' is the perfect soundtrack to the Joke's end of the world party I'm not so sure. Let me give this a few more spins and I'll get back to you, because as is so typical of a band like Killing Joke this is a difficult album and right now it's presenting me with yet another cranium scratching moment.
I just hope you're all still out there when I get back to deliver you my verdict in our albums of the year poll (trust me on this one - you will be).