By Lane Oliver
Since their inception in the late seventies, London based post-punk/ industrial rock band Killing Joke have steadily rose to legendary status. Many well known modern bands including Porcupine Tree, Godflesh, Ministry, Rammstein, even Korn, have all at one point cited Killing Joke as an influence on their music. To this day the band continues to release records and inspire well known musicians of today. This year the band released their fifteenth studio effort entitled MMXII (2012) respectively. This fifty minute record is another good indicator that the band hasn’t lost their luster in their thirty year life span.
MMXII is an ambitious, loud and heavy record that explores themes regarding the 2012 phenomenon. Jaz Coleman’s lyrics touch upon topics such as the pole-shift hypothesis (“Pole Shift”), the US FEMA internment facilities (“FEMA Camp”), corporate greed (“Corporate Elect”) and others. Jaz unleashes these prophetic lyrics with low tenor harmonies and barking yelps. This end-of-time album is brought to life by these lyrics and vocals along with accompanying huge, driving compositions and rich production.
The record begins with a cascading synthesized symphony and droning bass on “Pole Shift”. The nine minute opener crawls along with mellow guitar riffs, tightly knit drumming, warm bass lines and swirling synths. The placid verses give way to mountainous, trudging guitars on the choruses that could possibly bring about the apocalypse themselves. “FEMA Camp”, the second track, is characterized by primal, electronic rhythms and rough and raw guitar chord progressions. This track’s infectious, almost danceable rhythm makes it a real standout amongst the other songs on this record. The humongous sounding “Rapture” is up next with cycling, flanger infected electronics, abrasive guitar work and exultant sounding vocals that slice through the dense layers of instrumentation. It’s hard not to bob your head a bit to this marching piece of industrial mastery. “Colony Collapse” opens up with trippy sounding synths that pave the way for a stomping array of instrumentation and pulsating synths. The song has an almost marching tempo to it and is quite the catchy number. Killing Joke pulls out industrial d-beat punk and metal crossover riffs on “Corporate Elect”. Killing Joke sounds abnormally heavy on this track. The thick guitars and rumbling bass lines are like fists donned with brass knuckles that hit over and over until your family can no longer recognize you through all the blood and bruised flesh. “In Cythera” is an energetic, melodious synthpop inspired track that is upbeat and is a stark contrast to the rest of the album. It’s definitely not the most solid of the album’s ten tracks and can really become repetitive at times. It has its catchy moments but overall it feels really week compared to the rest of the record.
“Primobile” is a dark, melancholic track that release waves of thick, swelling, synthesized ambiences upon you during the verses and heavy, malevolent guitar chords in the choruses. The eighth track, “Glitch”, shows Killing Joke at their heaviest. It begins with bright power chords making their way down the neck and buzzing synth sounds. Then the majority of the track becomes this cesspool of bombastic, chugging industrial metal riffs. This song’s cataclysmic verses will break your neck and rip out your spine just with its auditory maliciousness. “Trance” a trippy, oscillating interplanetary track that will either entrance you or knock you on your face. The song has some really cool, churning moments in the bridge but overall this song can become pretty repetitive throughout its six minute duration. Just like “In Cythera”, there isn’t enough jumping out at me to keep me going like the other tracks. It’s not a bad song but it could have been more. “On All Hallow’s Eve” brings the record to a close with bubbling synths, thundering percussion, droning mantras, and melodiously heavy chord progressions. After the album drew to a close I was left pretty fulfilled. This is the album we should all collectively listen to on “doomsday”.
Killing Joke has still got great writing skills and MMXII can attest to that. Sure some moments were a little repetitive at times but overall this is a pretty damn good record from one of the most influential bands ever. I recommend this beast highly. Check it out.
Release Date: April 2, 2012
Favorite Tracks “Pole Shift”, “FEMA Camp”, “Corporate Elect”, “Glitch”, and “On All Hallow’s Eve”.
For fans of: Ministry, Porcupine Tree, Sonic Youth, Swans, and Joy Division.