Killing Joke – MMXII

By Raymond Westland

Killing Joke is one of the most influential outfits in rock, (post) punk and metal today. Jaz Coleman and Co have been a source of influence for luminaries, like Metallica, Prong, Fear Factory, Ministry, Tool, Nine Inch Nails, Porcupine Tree and Napalm Death. The origins of the band can be traced back to the late seventies. Despite numerous lineup changes Killing Joke is still going strong after all these years. They just released MMXII, their latest album. Let’s see whether these guys are still able to consolidate their position as one of the true innovators within the rock, (post) punk and metal spheres.

MMXII is the second album since the reunion from Killing Joke’s original line-up consisting of Youth, Geordie Walker, Paul Ferguson and the earlier mentioned Jaz Coleman. This album pretty much continues where Absolute Dissent left off. It offers industrial metal flourishes reminiscent of Killing Joke (2003) and Hosannas From The Basements Of Hell (2006), but also enough nods to the band’s post punk days back in the early eighties. All these different elements are packaged in surprisingly accessible compositions with very memorable hooks and choruses. This gives “Fema Camp”, “Rapture” and “In Cythera” almost an anthem-like quality.

As with many with the previous Killing Joke albums it took me some time before MMXII really started to sink in. On the first casual listens there doesn’t seems to be a lot going on tracks like “Pole Shift”, “Corporate Elect”, “Glitch” and “Trance”, but looks can be deceiving. With each successive listen the albums gives more of its intricate details and rich textures away. It’s this apparent duality that makes MMXII such an intensely satisfying and captivating listening experience. By the time the mighty roars and wails by Jaz Coleman kick in you instantly know that you’re listening to one of the finest albums of this year. As a Killing Joke nut I’m biased of course, but still.

In short, MMXII by Killing Joke is one mighty fine follow-up record to its illustrious predecessor. The album has all the hallmarks of a great record. It has the songs, boundless energy and all the apocalyptic themes to do for. I wouldn’t mind a slightly heavier direction on the next Killing Joke album, but hell, MMXII is one of the definite highlights of this year!

(Spinefarm/Universal)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.