Stylus Magazine, 14 October 2003.)
I’d never heard Killing Joke before this record. Not even
“Eighties” or “Wardance.” So I’m sure somewhere there are rabid old skool
KJ fans squatting in filthy little apartments muttering fervently to
themselves about how it’s not as good as the old stuff. But they’re
I mean, Jaz Coleman sounds like a demon on “Total
Invasion.” Not just demonic; he sounds like he just ate Lemmy from
Motorhead. There are times (the part in “Implant” where the band stops and
he just screams) when I seriously wonder about the future of his vocal
Behind this, it sounds like Geordie and Youth and Raven
have decided to cease worrying about separate instruments and just play
the exact same thing, and their long practice has enabled them, of course,
to stop and start on a dime. So there’s just this huge roaring sound,
which is perfect.
And Dave Grohl, apparently a fan from way back,
gets to sit in on drums. I don’t know much about technique, but Dave’s
always been best at just hitting the drums in front of him as hard as he
can, and then doing it again, which is what you want- and get- here.
Even better, instead of the dungeons and dragons you often find on
albums that sound this impossibly heavy, you’ve got a batch of songs that
are clearly not happy about current political affairs (see “They’re
dropping bombs again/And they’re doing it in your name” at the
beginning of “Seeing Red”). If they’re not the most coherent arguments,
well, they’re rock lyrics. You’re supposed to feel angry and shout – let
others write up the facts that we can then focus our anger upon.
The key exception is telling. “You’ll Never Get To Me” churns
where the rest of the album flat-out destroys, and substitutes for the
righteous fury of the other songs expansiveness and quiet(er) conviction.
Here Coleman sings/growls of the “sweet childhood” that sustains
him now, and the song itself is the heart the rest of the album, and the
rest of the album’s anger, gathers around. A chance to recharge, in other
words, and the best song on Killing Joke, its chorus swearing
“I’ll never let you get to me” in oddly reassuring fashion.
And finally there is “The House That Pain Built,” the last song,
another great chorus, but also a bit of an explanation. “And when you
need catharsis/Because that’s how you’re made, you know,” is the
beginning of the chorus, and it goes without saying that when you need
that catharsis, you pop in Killing Joke. It’s not the most subtle
or nuanced album, you can’t really dance to it, and it’s not particular
clever. What it is: brutal, full of hooks, rock solid and fucking loud.