Monday, October 5, 2015

Killing Joke : "Pylon"

Expectations are always high when it comes to what I want from my favorite bands. Killing Joke is one of the most influential bands ever, so you expect them to deliver. They do. They deliver an album that aligns itself with their length career which has touched upon everything from new wave to metal. Some things are pretty constant here like Jaz Coleman's voice which is smooth over the frantic rock driven by Youth's bass line feels more organic than most of their out put since "Pandemonium" .  There are still flourishes of futuristic effects passing over the mix. It would put them more pack to their punk roots , but  the riff  carries more of a drone. They get heavier for "Dawn of the Hive" . It has the tribal post-apocalyptic chug that would not have been out of place on the soundtrack for the last Mad Max movie.  The chorus backs off and gives a breather before they return to the hypnotic hammering that hold more finesse that how a metal band would approach this, though they  more than capable lock into a more militant industrial which they display later in the song.

"New Cold War"  is more melodic than either of the first two songs , though it also finds Jaz going into more of a roar in places. The disco hi-hat in Jimmy Copely's drumming has become a staple in post-punk, here it is used in context none of the newest crop of  post-punk  bands are forward thinking enough to imitate. The song is layered with so many darkly reflective sounds that this almost dancey element gives it the sense of movement it needs. The upbeat "Euphoria" continues to set this album apart from their more recent output. The chorus to this song is not over blown and the melody is allowed to coast with the atmosphere that has even more of a dancey propulsion than the previous song.

There is weird yet taunt groove to "New Jerusalem" where Coleman's vocals take on a an almost rap-like cadence in their placement, the build the song  busts into is more intricate than just stomping on the distortion. There is a lot going on in there. Kevin Walker's guitar tone at times is more metallic, but the use of effects works perfectly in the over all mix of the songs. "War on Freedom" oddly has a more upbeat vibe to it to the commentary of Big Brother using things like facial recognition software to slowly impose upon us. Its midway into the album that I come to terms with the fact this won't be as heavy as "MMXII" , which isn't bad it's just different. Killing Joke has never made the same album twice and they are not bucking that trend. "Big Buzz" continues this trend with another upbeat almost punk like tempo. Coleman's lyrics give a wink to his mystic interests as he quotes Crowley's Book of the Law exclaiming " every man and woman is a star".

They get more metal with "Delete". The vocal line coasts over the more aggressive guitar work. They are one of the few bands that can approach this kind of cerebrally heavy sound and bring it to you such dynamic variance.  This is something that even bands they have influenced like Ministry  have not been consistent with and Killing Joke has been doing this since 1978. "I Am the Virus" finds Coleman adding a harshness to his voice on the chorus. "Into the Unknown" closes out the album, this song is heavy in some sense , but not metal. There is some interesting interplay between the synths and guitar. It is going to take a few listens for me to really absorb this but on my initial listen I have no problem rounding this one up to a 10 as the band maintains their sound, but refuses to become a retro act and rehash what they have already done.  If you eve wonder why I can be so harsh on even supposedly iconic bands, when you have a band like Killing Joke who is still putting out music that finds them continuing to expand themselves musically then why should I accept less?

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