Formed in 1979, Killing Joke are a rare beast. The combination of intricate music and biting lyrics has seen them carve a very influential and respected path throughout the last 30 years. Always sounding way ahead of their time yet remaining grounded in what made them so exciting in the first place, every new release comes with a sense of wonder and eagerness as to what sound they are showering on us this time…will it be the edgier early punk sound or the ambient almost Gothic like vibe from later albums? Pylon, their 15th album, definitely verges closer to the harder punk led era from earlier albums, but also throws in some meaty riff heavy guitar work (very similar to 2003 album ‘Killing Joke’) and driving keyboard/ambient sounds (as per last release ‘MMXII’ from 2012)…in essence, this is Killing Joke at their most complete.
First track Autonomous Zone starts low and quiet before a twang of bass throws us head first into a pounding riff and driving drums. Jaz Coleman‘s ethereal vocals drift and echo as eerie sounds weave in and out of the song; strange and heavy. Dawn Of The Hive is even heavier…an almost slow punk metal track with an almighty chorus section that soars (vocals) and screeches (guitar), whilst New Cold War really shows a band channelling their past with the big production sound of the present…again, very much led by Geordie Walker‘s familiar guitar sound and complemented perfectly with a killer drum and bass combo. Midway through and we get the highlight of the album (for me anyway) in New Jerusalem. Beginning with a menacing keyboard, then building to a guitar chugging riff before expanding to an almost mechanical rhythm, the chorus explodes with apocalyptic strings, sneering vocals and shattering drums…rinse then repeat!
Elsewhere, War On Freedom gets the head banging with its constant keyboard presence and anthemic chorus, Euphoria gets the heart pumping with its fast pace and nostalgic musicianship, and, Delete gets the feet stamping with its punk attitude and lyrical content. Speaking of lyrics, Killing Joke have never been a band to shy away from sharing their own statements throughout their albums, from political views to the condition of the planet caused by pollution and destruction. Pylon is no different as themes such as fear, control and war are front and centre with several references to humanity as a species also a constant subject. This is why Killing Joke have endured for nearly 30 years and continue to release music of the highest quality. Their intelligence, skill and craftsmanship is evident in each aspect of their work (including the artwork used) and is injected with an overwhelming shot of confidence and ownership.
Also, as of note, the two cd version with five bonus tracks on the second disc is well worth shelling out the extra couple of quid for…a definite trend these days!
- A heavier sound. Intelligent. Band on top of their game. Track 'New Jerusalem'.
- Lack of lyrics in accompanying booklet.