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Killing Joke - Killing Joke


Review: Jack Foley

WHY is it that when a 'serious' rock 'n' roll band actually calms things down, they sound so much better than when they allow their fury to run amok?

In recent weeks, I have found myself reviewing the 'metallish' likes of both One Minute Silence and Metallica, to similar effect.

Getting through both albums, even once, proved difficult... and now we have Killing Joke - yet more brooding guitars and angry lyrics, all of which serve little purpose other than to have me scrambling for the skip button in search of the end of the album.

And yet, almost without fail, there is at least one track on each (sometimes two), where the pent-up rage is actually controlled, and sounds much better as a result.

On the self-titled Killing Joke, it's track seven, You'll Never Get To Me, which actually allows you to listen to it, taking time to deliver its melodies and messages, and sounding like a decent record to boot.

Here is a track that actually sounds melodic, with some decent guitars, and some more restrained drums - all of which serve to strengthen lead singer, Jaz Coleman's death-knell sounding vocals.

It's actually a great track about the innocence of childhood ('sweet childhood, never desert me'), and not allowing the bastards to grind you down ('survival is my victory') and stands out like a sore thumb amid the mind-numbing heaviness of most of the rest of the album.

Recorded in London and LA, and produced by Andy Gill (Gang Of Four, Red Hot Chilli Peppers), the album marks a reunion of the original line-up of Coleman, Geordie, Youth and Paul Ferguson, as well as Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl on drumming duty (returning a favour dating back to his Nirvana days, when the band sampled a KJ riff for Come As You Are), and therefore boasts some fairly impressive credentials.

Fans will no doubt lap it up as a timely return for a band which made a name for itself by commenting on global events; as there is plenty for Coleman to sink his teeth into - from GM crops to oil-pillaging wars.

Seeing Red, for instance, is an apt description for what to expect, given the nature of lyrics such as 'been dropping bombs again, and we're doing it in your name', or 'kiss the arse of Uncle Sam, oh to be an Englishman', which all contain a social relevance, but which constantly get lost amid the crashing drums, guitars and wailing vocals.

It becomes a repetitive cycle, and an overbearing one at that.

The fact that Loose Cannon, the first single to emerge from the long-player, provided the band with its first Top 40 hit in nine years, means that no matter what I have to say about it, this one's going to make money.

And if the fans are happy, then that's the main thing, I guess. But with tracks such as The House That Pain Built and The Death & Resurrection Joke, this won't be finding its way into my CD player in the future...

 

Track listing:
1. The Death & Resurrection Show
2. Total Invasion
3. Asteroid
4. Implant
5. Blood On Your Hands
6. Loose Cannon
7. You'll Never Get To Me
8. Seeing Red
9. Dark Forces
10. The House That Pain Built
11. Inferno (UK Bonus Track)

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