It was back in March of this year that I first gave this record a spin. After listening to their debut "Killing Joke" I moved onto their third and found it very difficult to get into this one. A lack of fidelity in the production made it unsuitable for earphones on a windy walk. Months later on my sound system I was able to distinguish a lot more of what was going on but still felt an absence of something important. With much reluctance I have finished listening to what I hope is the worst Killing Joke record, its pretty appalling, gloomy and tinged with Gothic influences.
The band's charm is in the dissonant guitars, mechanical stop start rhythms and singer Jaz Coleman's distinguished voice. On previous records it all came together with atmosphere, drive and meaning to form memorable songs that introduced new ideas and musical approaches in the Post-Punk scene that's had a profound influence on many bands, mainly Metal & Industrial. Going from the snappy rhythm led hook of "Tension" and anthemic dystopian sing along "Follow The Leaders", the band hit an inspirational bankruptcy on "Revelations". Opening with the mediocre track "The Hum" marks the high point for a stale and drab record which quickly drifts into obscurity.
The spark is missing, and it can be felt sorely after the first two tracks as the discordant guitar fails to ignite any atmosphere. Idea after idea, riff after riff falls hard on itself as obvious injections of "unexpected" sounds creep into the tracks with bells and acoustic guitars in the breaks. The drums pound and grind away uninspired rhythms that lack a groove or any chemistry with the guitars. Jaz's wails away in his own style but like the drums just fails to gel with the guitars and we end up with a collection of misfiring songs that drone through a moody and uninspiring setting.
It feels like the band where going for a darker vibe and focusing on the drone of the discord. In doing so they were unable to create anything memorable on a miserable record that felt like leftovers from a demo. I'm trying to be fair, but Its a poor effort with little chemistry and a lack of direction. There is also the absence of any electronics which in retrospect feels like an even bigger part of their sound. Disappointing, but I'm still keen to get through their discography.