Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Killing Joke - "Absolute Dissent" CD

It's been said that in times of worldly distress, the mighty Killing Joke reconvene to ignite the fires of dissent. Their voice is one founded upon the reactionary climate of punk, and tempered by literature, poetry, and ancient history (and prophecy). They're a powerful conglomerate of influences, and "Absolute Dissent" is the band's most aggressive, emotional, and fearless release in some time.

The original lineup of Killing Joke assembled for the first time in 25+ years for this recording, and the intensity and unbridled passion are as strong as ever. Lead madman (and sometimes-classical composer) Jaz Coleman spouts off intelligent political discourse and borderline demonic ranting like no other. The opening title track recalls the band's early days, with Geordie Walker's distinctive grinding, choppy guitar and a a walloping, catchy chorus. That's not to mention the huge drums, courtesy of Big Paul Ferguson. Bassist (and now name producer) Youth returns with his dub-inspired low-end. It's crowned with Coleman's caustic seething rants (and his well-honed melodic voice as well). An effective lead-off track, for certain.

"The Great Cull" is a monster of sludgy grind and pound, with a vision of a Malthusian future where behind-the-scenes players manipulate the general masses via food, immunizations, and other means to control the overpopulation zeitgeist. Ominous, scary, and, unfortunately, likely very real conspiracy. There are no easy answers, but within the context of rock music, Coleman and Killing Joke stand head and shoulders above the rest, intellectually if not musically. "In Excelsis" is one of my favorites, being a spirited wall of noise that can't obscure an unmistakably sorrowful (yet simple) two-chord melody. Another brilliant track. "European Super State" needs no explanation, but the group here explores a club-worthy proto-industrial groove, and it works beautifully, coming across as more intense and aggressive than anything Ministry have done in years.

"The Raven King" honors former KJ bassist Paul Raven, who unexpectedly passed away in 2007. This is the emotional highlight of the record, and a touching tribute to Raven's swaggering persona and the love his friends had for him. Swells of guitar and keyboards amplify Coleman's poetic reflections. Other strong points include the fiery "Depthcharge", and the dubby closer, "Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove". I could go on and on, as this is among my most-played releases of the last year. Amazing, brutal, intelligent, catchy, and monumental, "Absolute Dissent" is a triumph however you cut it. (Spinefarm Records)

Killing Joke official site

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