I don’t know much about Killing Joke. My greatest exposure to their catalog is covers here and there, most notably Metallica’s version of “The Wait,” but also from a recent review of Prong’s Songs From The Black Hole. Still, I think I can safely say that the band has barely changed their approach in their over 35 years of existence. Everything is a new world dystopia, from the threat of nuclear war to corporations ruling everything. It’s almost as if they’re thrilled with the current state of geopolitical affairs so that they can inveigh against it. It feels like the band had to exert all of their effort just to refrain from mentioning Thatcher.
Musically not much has changed either, as far as I can tell. If you loved Killing Joke in the 80’s and want to hear them recording on more modern equipment, then you’re in luck. If you want 57 minutes of verse-chorus-verse and no other song development, hey, it’s really you’re lucky day. Continuing with the theme I introduced in my previous review, you could fit over three full Unpluggeds into these ten tracks. I don’t dislike any on this record (though “War On Freedom” comes close), and I had it pegged at three clowns for most of my listening (in part I think because the last three tracks are 60% of the album’s Likes, though even those are too long), but in the end it’s too repetitive and too much of an effort to get through. Even cutting 10-12 minutes and getting it down to an old school LP length would have been an improvement, though probably not enough to get it any more than three clowns. While most of this is enjoyable, there’s virtually nothing that transcends or compels you to listen to it again.
Like: “Dawn Of The Hive,” “Euphoria,” “Delete,” “I Am The Virus,” “Into The Unknown”
Meh: “Autonomous Zone,” “New Cold War,” “New Jerusalem,” “War On Freedon,” “Big Buzz”
Song Notes: After the jump
- Autonomous Zone – too long
- Dawn Of The Hive – great sound
- New Cold War – it’s almost sweet that geopolitical tensions are high so that Killing Joke can go back to complaining about the dystopic world they have always inhabited
- Euphoria –
- New Jerusalem – the descending keys riff right after title sung is too repetitive
- War On Freedom – maybe the worst one. maybe Dislike
- Big Buzz – almost Like
- Delete – maybe the best and, in what seems to be a theme, the shortest at 5:00. I don’t think it’s that I like short songs better, or at least that’s not all of it. I think when a band has a really good song they know it doesn’t need to be extended. Notably, this would probably be Really Like if it was 3.5 minutes long.
- I Am The Virus
- Into The Unknown – probably either this or “Delete” are my faves