(This article originally appeared on the Ballroom Favourites website, an online rock zine, August 2003).
by Hans Blix
Jaz Coleman takes time out from composing classical pieces, conducting
symphony orchestras and building an apocalyptic army in the dark
Heart of New Zealand to get together with fellow Jokers Geordie and Youth
for their first release in the best part of a decade. The semi-ubiquitous Dave
Grohl pops up on the drums, raising that age old question- what happens when the
nicest man in rock teams with a not quite so nice hybrid of
Steve Albini and Idi Amin, i.e. Mr Coleman?
The answer is a grinding, pugilistic and punishing piece of industrial rock. All pummeling drums, histrionic keyboards, bowel tinkering bass and crunching guitars, this release shows the years haven't blunted any of Killing Joke's aggression, nor lent them anything resembling a sense of whimsy.
Coleman rages against everything from American foreign policy to diminishing individual freedoms with his usual furious vocal assault, moving from clinical deadpan to terrifying screams without ever letting up the emotional intensity for which Killing Joke are revered and feared.
It's none too fashionable to make angry political music nowadays. You can get angry with your Dad for making you tidy your room (nu-metal) or you can be terribly oblique and complain of your tortured isolation (Radiohead) but being brutal and direct about the state of the world just isn't done any more. So itís kind of nice to have Killing Joke tell you to "Tear up your ID cards and stick your implants up your arse." Hell of a lot more fun than curling up in the fetal position with Thom Yorke and whimpering about how shitty it all is.
The inevitable charge detractors could level at this record is that it all sounds a bit eighties. Unapologetic with its industrial flavour, swimming in reverb as well as overtly political, this doesn't seem to be of its time. But what the hell hipsters, there is an 80s revival going on don't ya know? (NB Killing Joke will not be playing a School Disco.com near you anytime soon or ever for that matter).
Load it onto your mp3 player disguised as an early model Walkman, put on a nasty scowl and go lob a molotov cocktail through the window display of your favourite high street retailer. All in the name of revisionist fashion, natch. Or even better, give it to the nu-metal hoody-wearing sibling in your life and watch him first clean his room and then sit huddled and shivering within it for the remainder of his teens. Priceless.