Review : KILLING JOKE – "Absolute Dissent"

Killing JokeAbsolute Dissent
Release Date: 2010Nov16 (US)
Label: Spinefarm Records
Rating: 5/5

No album released in recent memory has the combined explosive urgency, reflective wisdom, immediate catchiness, and lasting value of Absolute Dissent—the year’s biggest surprise, with definite Best of 2010 potential. While this is the fourteenth Killing Joke LP overall, it marks the first time in twenty-eight years that the original lineup has gathered to record (save the In Excelsis EP released a few months prior). The reunion was sparked as the four met at the funeral of former member Paul Raven in October 2007.

Vocalist/magickian Jaz Coleman commands a most primally terrifying performance, even in today’s world of heavier-than-thou barks and growls. Plus, his hollow, soaring, cleaner execution comes across with detached, yet enveloping omnipresence—somehow simultaneously comforting and unsettling. Probably because the music is so enjoyable, yet the lyrics themselves are designed to illuminate sensitive subjects like modern Malthusianism via Codex Alimentarius (“The Great Cull”) or environmental decay (“Depthcharge”).

Although Killing Joke has progressively integrated more Metal into their 21st century output, this seems to come more from atmosphere than anything else. Particularly because guitarist Geordie Walker—the Joke‘s only other consistent member—employs deceptively simple riffing that veils the proceedings well. And I cannot overstate the importance of returning drummer Paul Ferguson. As good as Ben Calvert was on Hosannas or Dave Grohl on KJ2003, Paul’s pounding blends perfectly with Youth’s distinctive punchy bass. The decidedly danceable backbeats on the title track are vital enough to act as a surrogate defibrillator*. Disillusionment never got your booty moving this much.

The Joke was never all about heaviness, as post-punk merged into darkwave and industrial with several stopping points between. Nodding to their mid-period, they wrap a velvet glove around the iron fist for empowering songs like the hypnotic two-chord “In Excelsis” (“Liberty our common goal / Smash the cabals that control”). They also channel the anger of their fallen brother with “The Raven King”, reveal some autobiographical info through “Honour the Fire”, and extol the virtues of the EU with EBM on “European Super State”, the album’s lead single. And just when you think they cannot hark back far enough, “Ghosts of Landbroke Grove” digs down to their dub roots from the 1979 Red EPs.

Absolute Dissent is a powerful, distinguishable, relevant, and critical album—essential listening for today, and a defining time capsule for the future.

Try 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12

01. Absolute Dissent
02. The Great Cull
03. Fresh Fever From The Skies
04. In Excelsis
05. European Super State
06. This World Hell
07. Endgame
08. The Raven King
09. Honour The Fire
10. Depthcharge
11. Here Comes The Singularity
12. Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove

* Not to be taken as actual medical advice… though it would probably work… and be awesome.


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