x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

For fans of Killing Joke, MMXII delivers

Ultimately, MMXII is a solid piece of work, even if filled with visions of doom.

Killing Joke
MMXII
(Spinefarm)
***

It was probably inevitable, in this ominously apocalyptic year, that rock's most dedicated conspiracy theorists would seize the chance to release a doom-laden album of the same name. Formed in London 34 years ago, Killing Joke's brooding post-punk sound later proved highly influential on generations of bands including Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails and Korn. After long periods of inactivity, the reunited original line-up of the singer Jaz Coleman, the guitarist Martin "Youth" Glover, the bass player Kevin "Geordie" Walker and the drummer Paul Ferguson have been working together again steadily since 2008. Killing Joke were always more cosmopolitan in their musical influences than most of their Britrock peers, partly because of Coleman's wide-ranging creative curiosity. The Anglo-Indian singer once studied Arabic music in Egypt and has collaborated on numerous side projects, including a Middle Eastern orchestral album. This broader hinterland surfaces sporadically on MMXII, notably in the singer's quavering quarter tones and soaring, raga-like delivery on Pole Shift and Rapture. Sonically and lyrically, the album sticks fairly closely to the established template of latter-day Killing Joke, wrapping murky warnings about imminent global disaster and Matrix-style mind-control plots inside densely churning guitar riffs and gothic keyboard flourishes. This melodramatic approach risks becoming dirge-like in places, notably during the heavy trudge of Fema Camp, but it also builds to a kind of explosive intensity with the stomping science-fiction roar of Colony Collapse and the powerhouse goth-metal anthem Glitch. Ultimately, MMXII is a solid piece of work, unlikely to seduce new converts but familiar enough to please long-term fans.

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