No one expected the four original members of Killing Joke to reunite yet after 25 years apart they did just that. They played a few dates around the world, released Absolute Dissent, toured again and earlier in 2012 unleashed MMXII. The Mayan Calendar ends in December of this year, this is the supposed end of the world, eclipses of the sun and moon will take place, planets will align with the pyramids at Giza, the planets in our solar system will align with the center of the Milky Way galaxy, but whatever actually will occur, one thing is certain: that Killing Joke will still be there. What front man Jaz Coleman once again does on MMXII is comment on the current times, along with offering hope and love to all.
On their second album with the original lineup of Coleman, guitarist Geordie Walker, bassist Martin “Youth” Glover and drummer “Big” Paul Ferguson they’ve still got plenty to say and no lack of energy in their delivery. The album opens with Poleshift‘s invitation by way of mysterious keyboards, Coleman singing wistfully, then, as the band digs into their instruments, the chaos of a world turned upside down is played out.
While the lyrics of Fema Camp are vague, what is clear is Ferguson’s mid-tempo thump, coupled with Walker’s crackling chord progression creating a smoldering tone. Rapture speeds up the pace with vibrating synths, Youth’s ominous bass pulse and cymbal crashes that accentuate Coleman’s chants.
Colony Collapse fires on all cylinders with Ferguson’s strident beat, crunchy synths, Youth’s powerful fills and Walker’s unique guitar style. At the three minute mark Killing Joke synchronize into a spine-tingling groove, one of the best moments of their career. Corporate Elect is a singular KJ song, full of hate and classic Walker guitar slide and chug, the band trade on their 80’s catchiness to sweat out the illness of politics ran by corporate tyrants.
After the previous heaviness comes the beauty of In Cythera, Youth and Walker playing a fast and emotional melody, broken by ethereal keyboards, Coleman singing “I’m grateful, for all the times we’ve shared, through struggles, and madness, you’re there.” Primobile is dark disco, recalling KJ’s late 80’s keyboard heavy era, Youth and Ferguson crafting a cymbals and bass groove with thrumming key fills and Walker’s hypnotic performance.
Glitch is all-out industrial thump and clatter and cathartic ascending chords, the band in end of the world mode as Coleman warns of a world without electricity, satellites, refrigerators, “The solar storms have come and chaos rules outside. The freezer’s broke, the food is off, the GPS has died.” The way the band tell it, a life without electricity doesn’t sound half bad. While Trance isn’t that great of a song overall, its saving graces are Youth’s audible popping bass playing and Coleman’s alternative history in Cliff’s Notes.
The musical journey reaches its destination with the reflective and uplifting All Hallow’s Eve. Coleman thinks back on his past, of “Old haunts and habits invoking loved ones”, inviting us to “Make noise! Wake up the great dead in reverence.” Whether or not anything does happen on or around the date of December 21, 2012, let Killing Joke’s MMXII incite you to care what is happening around you and to love your friends and family. Because what better message is there than to love those around you?
(by Bret Miller)