Release Date: Oct 23, 2015
Record label: Spinefarm Records
Is there a badder-ass band than Killing Joke that's been actively touring since 1978? Is there a more influential band playing such vital music over 16 studio albums that Dave Grohl felt obligated to play drums on their 2003 self-titled album because Nirvana copped the opening riff of the band's "Eighties" for their own megahit, 1991's "Come as You Are"? Answer: absolutely not. The outstanding Pylon feels like a comeback record in the way that Carcass' Surgical Steel reinvented the steel recently (and Jaz Coleman's voice never, ever ages), yet it seamlessly touches upon almost every keystone of their storied career. Opener "Autonomous Zone" blazes out of the gates with ultra-heavy beats reminiscent of the band's eponymous 2003 masterpiece, and the pulsating "Delete" and "Dawn of the Hive" hearken to the majesty of 2010's Absolute Dissent.
Let us take a moment and ponder, our mouths agape and our eyes glassy with wonder, the formidable career of Killing Joke. Their self-titled debut album released in 1980 sounded like nothing that came before it. Killing Joke set the prevailing rules of punk on a giant pyre and set it ablaze; we have been dancing concentrically in the light of that mighty fire for 35 years now.
Imagine if everyone suddenly started treating each other and the planet with respect. It would be idyllic, but there probably wouldn’t be any more Killing Joke records. The world being what it is, they are now onto their 16th album and Jaz Coleman has found more to rail against than ever. Political corruption, corporate greed, restrictive governments and even “compulsory vaccination” are lambasted with his ire-filled guttural cries while Big Paul beats up his drums and guitars herald Armageddon.
The original line-up release their 16th album, the third in a ‘triptych’. ‘Our time has come!’ declares Jaz Coleman on opener Autonomous Zone. Which is a somewhat strange declaration from a band whose time was generally considered to have been the late 70s/early 80s. ADVERTISINGinRead invented by Teads But then Killing Joke, Coleman in particular, were always of an apocalyptic predisposition; it has probably come as a surprise to them that Western civilisation had survived unscathed this far into the 21st century and humanity has not been reduced to a pack of survivors poking about in irradiated ashes.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with fire and fierce anger, and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it! The sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light! The third angel will sound, and a star will fall from Heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and fall upon the third part of the waters! For behold, the day is coming when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble, and upon the Earth, distress of nations, the sea and the waves roaring! Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven draws near! . . .
Killing Joke's membership has gone through some periods of volatility since they emerged in the late '70s, but the reunion of the group's first lineup -- Jaz Coleman on vocals, Geordie Walker on guitar, Youth on bass, and Paul Ferguson on drums -- had proved to be more stable and prolific than many would have predicted, and 2015's Pylon, the third studio album since the original foursome returned to duty in 2008, shows the veterans are still sounding impressively muscular and acerbic as they close in on their 40th anniversary. Opening with the thunderous bass and drums (and abrasive guitars and electronics) of "Autonomous Zone," Pylon finds Killing Joke still ranting about the sorry state of our culture as they make with a massive sonic assault that would be a dandy soundtrack for the collapse of the civilization of your choice. While Coleman's vocals are generally low in the mix, what creeps through shows his powerful bellow is in fine shape, and the bursts of recognizable thought that make it through suggest he's still reading his daily newspaper and has no more hope for the world than he ever has.
Heavy music in 2015 is experiencing a special kind of revitalization. Legendary and pioneering bands who count themselves among the living and recording have proven that even in their later years, they can still produce the same quality rock ‘n’ roll that initially brought them acclaim. Bands like Motörhead, Iron Maiden, and Slayer have all stuck to their guns and released albums this year that manage to showcase some of their best talents while still maintaining their relevance.