Shotgun Method | NY... No, not *that* NY | 11/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Killing Joke doesn't color within the lines when it comes to genre. They're loosely classifiable as "post-punk" of course, but while they have a dancey edge similar to Gang Of Four and Joy Division, they are a lot harsher and incorporate metal and early industrial influences into their tense and eerie sound.
While Gang Of Four and PIL were channeling anti-capitalism cynicism, and Joy Division were painting intensely personal portraits of despair and uncertainty, Killing Joke adopted the "No Future" nihilism of punk rock and added to it a feeling of paranoia and messages of doom, political corruption, and nuclear apocalypse. The overall sound is martial, abrasive, and distant, yet extremely catchy. Synthesizers pound and screech out repetitive beats; the rhythm section is tight, tribal, and groovy; Geordie's guitar rips through stark, squalling riffs; and Jaz Coleman's voice is either an in-your-face yell, distorted to an insectile rasp, or a floating and ominous prescence--the British-accented harbinger of doom and decay. Metal was generally too over-the-top to be taken seriously like this; punk rock was too snide and affected by comparison. This was and continues to be the real deal.
This 1979 debut is hands-down the band's best release. From creepy drones like Tomorrow's World and $.O.36 to tribal pounders (Change, Bloodspot, and Primitive), this is potent, pure, and unfettered material. And most noteworthy of all, this album has three stone-cold standards: The stark electro-anthems Requiem and Wardance, and the incredibly intense, driving The Wait (later covered by Metallica, and my all-time favorite Killing Joke track).
Killing Joke's first four albums (this, What's THIS For.., Revelations, and Fire Dances) set in stone the groundwork for industrial metal and noise rock bands like Ministry and Big Black, and are essential to any lover of metal, punk, grunge, and industrial. They never topped those albums--Night Time was decent but began Killing Joke's descent into synthy pop and later subpar quasi-metal. Their recent comeback 2003 album (also self-titled) with Dave Grohl on drums is good (especially considering these guys are nearly old enough to be Marilyn Manson's parents) but uninspired by comparison and, ironically, a bit too imitative of the outfits that were inspired by their own example. Oh well. Pick it up anyway, and support a undeservedly neglected and incredibly influential band."
Puts my brain through the grinder to this day
Davdi Sutom | San Francisco, CA USA | 08/31/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"What a debut LP... it continues to astonish me with it's cold, slamming power and apocalyptic messages. Nothing else like them when it came out or even now, 25 years later.
For those who haven't heard much Killing Joke, start with this record. Fans of Metallica not familiar with KJ may be surprised to hear what the original version of "The Wait" sounded like (I like both versions)."
Caesar M. Warrington | Lansdowne, PA United States | 09/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There is a direct line of descent from Killing Joke to Steve Albini, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson...even Metallica and Queens Of The Stone Age. The fact that so many bands and genres have reduced this sound into redundancy should not detract from this 1980 album that it epitomises the apocalyptic sound of 1980's so-called "post-punk." A dark, bleak sound. Harsh vocals. Tight rhythms and thudding drums. Tracks like "The Wait," "Requiem" and "Wardance" have aged well, sounding better than most of the doom & gloom angst-schlock being passed off as heavy music today. A true underground classic."
Has aged well
Lovblad | Geneva, Switzerland | 06/14/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD shows hoe modern Killing Joke still sound. While most of the post-punk bands managed to get badly produced there is something that remains very modern in Killing Joke's sound after more than 20 years. Songs like Requiem or Wardance sound like they could have been recorded today and they are not really post-punk in an overdone way."
Startling debut by a timeless band.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 04/05/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Killing Joke's 1980 eponymous debut (not to be confused with their eponymous 2003 album) is a startling debut, in many ways sounding like it wasn't recorded a quarter century ago, but rather yesterday. The band's style joined tribal and dub rhythms with post punk guitars and suitably apocalyptic lyrics. The band (Jaz Coleman- vocals, keys, Geordie Walker- guitar, Youth- bass, Paul Ferguson- drums, vocals) produced a dazzling debut with some of their best and most memorable songs.
In many ways, its obvious how far ahead of their time they were, whether it be the proto-alternative drudging pace of "Requiem", the highly danceable "Wardance", or the funky "Change", the music on this album is far beyond what their contemporaries were doing. Certainly, it set the groundwork for several styles in the future-- so much so that Killing Joke has been classified as punk or goth or new wave or alternative or industrial or just simply post-punk. The truth is, these are all accurate, the band cover s a ton of ground here and set the stage for things to come. Yet the album maintains a unified sound throughout, Geordie's guitars maintain a sludging feel even when the pieces are more dance-oriented and Coleman paints a lyrical picture of coming chaos and apocalyptic visions (a theme largely found in the early KJ albums). This does unfortunately lead to uneven quality on the album, some tracks are largely disposable ("Tomorrow's World", "Bloodsport", "S.O.36"), but the remainder of the record is superb and the power of it more than makes up for some less inspired tracks. If there's a real complaint to be made, its the sound-- these albums are desparately in need of remastering. Edit: There is now an imported remaster available with bonus tracks, and the sonic upgrade is well worth the extra few bucks investment.
I've always felt this album's followup ("what's this for...!") was a far more even effort, but the better material here is powerful and resonsant, moreso than the material on the followup. Highly recommended."