This Killing Joke article was written by Jack Press, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
When you’ve been predicting the end of the earth for thirty-five years, you may well forgive the blistering bleakness that binds together the industrialised mesh of post-punk and gothic sonorousness that is Killing Joke – the poster-band for post-apocalyptic acolytes everywhere.
Since the reformation of the original line-up in 2008, Killing Joke have released the first two thirds of a disparately desolate and despondently dystopic triptych, that encompasses the deepest, darkest, and most daunting thoughts of the human mind. Building upon 2012’s critically acclaimed ‘MMXII’, ‘Pylon’ is the soundtrack to the end of the world; a journey through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Ever wondered what you’d hear if Fallout had a soundtrack – ‘Pylon’ would be it.
With an opening riff as akin for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as much as industrialised post-punk, ‘Autonomous Zone’ traverses the myriad of genres Killing Joke are written into the history books for mixing together in their cauldron of doom. ‘Autonomous Zone’ along with ‘Dawn Of The Hive’ are snapshots of the future we have in store for us.
Diverging from their post-punk patterns, ‘New Cold War’ promulgates Killing Joke’s ability to dip their toes into the sea of progressive rock, the sheer intensity of the guitar work laying down the grounds for the rest of the album – an exploration into the sonic capabilities of not only the world, but of themselves, as if gutting the inside of their machinery and reprogramming themselves with the finest software the post-apocalyptic world has to offer.
Guitar riffs sound more like marching armies, choruses sound like cries of rebellion, and basslines are as skull-crushingly heavy as they are as funky as ‘Dani California’ – Killing Joke don’t just sing about war, they mimic it in every note. ‘New Jerusalem’ and ‘War On Freedom’ are free-flowing, war-carrying acts of rebellion against today’s society, a culture of consumerism practised by a tribe of technophiles.
Killing Joke are no joke in the way they take control of their instruments as weapons of mass destruction, wielding them as if they’re ready to take out the doubters and defectors of the world. Every song is crafted almost exactly the same, as if they’ve got their own messages to convey and whilst it’s done to the highest of standards, it slowly becomes a treasure chest of everything you’ve already heard – lest not forget, this is the third in a triptych of tried-and-tested post-apocalyptic talk.
If you were beginning to doubt one of gothic post-punk’s forefather’s ability to deliver their very own brand of darkness, you’ll be left behind by those smart enough to not doubt Jaz Coleman and co. ‘Euphoria’ is the sound of desolation, the theme song for the end of the world. Swapping the industrialism for a lighter, more melodic tone, the song encapsulates the very essence of haunting, harrowing, and horrifying gothic rock. Whether it’s the sliding of the guitars, the pulsating basslines, or the simplistic yet substantial description of the loss of autumn leaves to the perils of winter – ‘Euphoria’ is Killing Joke at their most daunting.
Whilst ‘Pylon’ is raising awareness of the society we’ve become numbingly comfortable with, ‘I Am The Virus’ raised awareness of a band as relevant now as they were 35 years ago as the album’s lead-single – a catastrophic car-crash of ravaging riffs, burning basslines, demolition-derby drums, and veracious vocals. Coleman claws at the crutches of the government – the media – with such intensity that it’s truly a terrifying experience – “I am the furnace where resentment glows/I am the bias/ I am the virus”.
Crushing down on us like a crescendo crucifix, ‘Into The Unknown’ closes ‘Pylon’ with a sense of success – as if Killing Joke have won the war of the world after five years, three albums, and a whole lot of anger.
If ‘Pylon’ does anything for you, it will most certainly cement Killing Joke as the poster-band for post-apocalyptic acolytes simply by the strength of its statements. If this is what the end of the world sounds like, then you should be embracing the end of your existence.