Monday, 2 February 2015

Killing Joke "What's THIS for...!" (1981)


Killing Joke are an English Post-Punk band who on this record, as the genre term suggests, are writing music and developing their sound in the Post-Punk era. Looking back on it through records like this and many others in the early 80s, it was an interesting time where the DIY punk approach had opened the doors for aspiring musicians to find audiences on a smaller scale outside the mainstream, the result is a foray artsy punk records, laying down ideas that would develop into Alternative, Industrial and Gothic Rock in the coming years. After enjoying there 1990 release "Extremities, Dirt And Various Repressed Emotions" I decided to head back to their second album purely for its title track "The Fall Of Because", which by no coincidence is the original name of Industrial Metal legends Godflesh.

Listening with the intent of hearing what inspired Godlfesh to create such a monolithic sound, I could instantly hear what it was this album offered. Through a Punk aesthetic Killing Joke take an entirely different approach to songwriting, turning most the norms on its side and rebelling against most the ideals laid down by the Punk movement. The band create big drawing atmospheres by slowing down the tempo, pounding tribal, repetitive percussion that most notably makes almost no use of symbols, and a very quiet hi-hat. The bass chugs and thuds under the discordant guitars that riff out an unconventional style, making great use of noisy chords and striping out any melodic leads or hooks. It drones and hums through repetitious riffs that contribute to an almighty sound thats desolate and baron, yet full of energy and culture, Coleman's roomy shouts further capturing this unity of separation.

The album is varied within its concept, alongside some moodier tracks the group deliver some classic tunes, "Tension" & "Follow The Leaders", with a fantastic sense of rhythm you can clap and move along to, the second of which uses some subtle synthesizer elements, including a high pitch string and shaky tonal noises that subtly add a lot to the song. A few other track utilize some electronic sounds that really do give this album an extra dimension. I wonder if it was noticed much at the time considering the emergence of electronic instruments as a result of Kraftwerk's experimentation. The album sounds great, its got character and holds up well today. Terrific album, one which I think will grow on me with time.

Favorite Songs: Tension, Butcher, Follow The Leaders, Madness
Rating: 8/10

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