Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Killing Joke "Killing Joke" (1980)

Killing Joke's self title debut is one synonymous with its cover, an infamous picture taken amidst a riot in Northern Ireland with the groups name gratified onto the wall. Its an image that comes up a lot in music culture and appreciation. After connecting with their second release "What's THIS for...!" I got into this record quickly which was similar in nature, but less focused on the Industrial / Heavy Metal tones, and remained closer to its Punk influences. It also included the song "The Wait", covered by Metallica on their Garage Days EP recorded with Jason Newstead.

Quiet unexpectedly I found what initially grabbed me on this record to tire more and more with each listen. On this one Killing Joke play closer to the Punk aesthetic, but with some interesting twists, utilizing spacey buzzing synthesizers and morphing vocal effects to give their sound distinction along with the pounding, marching rhythm they play out through repetitious guitar riffs and a chunky bass. Its in the moments were the band deliver the hooks and catchy riffs that it stands strong. "Requiem" and "Complications" drop in with rocking grooves and vocal leads to sing along to. "Wardance" stands aside with its alien vocal musings, the droning mechanical rhythm and subtle drilling sounds draw a close resemblance to "What's THIS for...!", along with "Bloodsport" which follows the mechanical marching rhythm while playing through some "cheesy" sudden synth sounds.

As a whole it delivers a foray of experimental Post-Punk ideas and creativity that despite delivering a couple of classics, feels halfway their in terms of formulating its ideas musically. The lyrical content is more reflective of the albums cover, addressing and commenting on societal behavior concerning war, pollution and the negative sides of societies construct. The daunting themes aren't in-line with overall vibe which changes from track to track with changes in pace, tone and use of instrumentation. My enjoyment was soured a little by the lack of direction and although theres some great music here, its a little scattered and fails to build an engaging atmosphere that retains the excitement.

Favorite Songs: Wardance, The Wait, Complications
Rating: 8/10