Album Review: Killing Joke

11 April 2012 | 1:38 pm | Matt O'Neill

There’s an honesty and humility to MMXII that lends unprecedented heft even to the record’s lighter moments.

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In 2010's Absolute Dissent, Killing Joke delivered one of their most confounding records. Two years on, it still looks like nothing more than an attempt to summarise their entire spectrum of influence within a single record – a murky collage of post-punk, industrial metal, synth pop and dub reggae that, despite boasting some of the band's best material, never quite worked. MMXII is much more organic. It ebbs and flows. In actual fact, it's the rawest and most human Killing Joke have ever sounded in their 34 years as a band. The blistering fury of the band's latter years is still present and accounted for, but it's tempered significantly throughout by more melodic approaches (and arguably the best production of the band's career). Geordie Walker hasn't delivered such textured and melodic leads since 1996's Democracy. Jaz Coleman sings more cleanly and passionately than he has on any record since 1986's Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. Even in the album's most aggressive moments, you'll find lush layers of synths augmenting and undercutting the band's impenetrable guitar noise. Upon initial listens, such unrepentant melodicism does seem to dilute Killing Joke's majesty somewhat – but further investigation reveals a more potent record. There's an honesty and humility to MMXII that lends unprecedented heft even to the record's lighter moments. Ironically, MMXII delivers what Absolute Dissent couldn't – a comprehensive and cohesive overview of Killing Joke's chaotic and multi-faceted identity.