(From the Evening Standard, UK daily, 25 February 2005.)


Anthems for the Armageddon


Killing Joke  Shepherd's Bush Empire


by John Aizlewood



WHEN Killing Joke surfaced 26 years ago, it was far from clear whether they were yobs masquerading as intelligentsia or vice versa. Crystal clear was their simmering menace, underpinned by stomach-quaking bass, inhuman drums, but most of all Jaz Coleman's lyrical celebration of what he saw as impending Armageddon, all delivered in a strained voice which made him the hoarse man of the apocalypse.

2003's supremely focused, self-titled album was a heroic vindication of their refusal to go gentle into that good night.

Somehow predictably, the new album is apparently being recorded in the world's war zones.

The menace of yore remained intact, even after Coleman emerged carrying a giant cross, wearing a baggy jumpsuit, a clerical collar and with his face covered painted devilish red.

Latest drummer Ben Calvert proved as extraordinary as his predecessors, so musically they cooked up an unholy storm, but the evening belonged to Coleman: part shaman, part berk, wholly compelling. They omitted their biggest hit Love Like Blood, but thundered through Are You Receiving? and the nearly new Total Invasion, which raised the not wholly fanciful notion that access to water will be the next international flashpoint.

Asteroid was the most intense moment of an intense evening, while War Dance and The Pandys Are Coming caused pandemonium among the elderly moshers.

After 90 exhausting minutes, Coleman departed with the prediction that the next four years will be "very strange for us all".


Yobs or intelligentsia?


I still don't know.