by Chris Familton
Killing Joke rose from the ashes and were one of the few acts that greeted the dawn of the 80s and post-punk with such an intense and heavy sound. They used the loosening of scenes and genres to embrace everything they heard around them – from disco to metal, new wave to goth – in the process creating a truly unique sound that would continue to evolve over the next three decades.
Often their mercurial and messianic frontman Jaz Coleman has stolen the limelight in a band where all the elements were crucial to the success of the group and indeed enabled them to cast such a wide musical net. Their first two singles a case in point with the agit dub-funk of Nervous System and the more reliably punk Wardance. From there it was open slather with Requiem most strongly pointing the direction they would head with slower, more defined time signatures, chugging guitars and Coleman delivering his ‘satan in the pulpit’ vocal sermons. By the mid 80s a discernible dance influence entered the fray on seminal tracks like Love Like Blood, their highest charting UK single, signaling a golden period with the albums Night Time and Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. It would be another eight years before they regained their peak form with the excellent Pandemonium album, represented here by the epic reach of Millennium and the title track’s metallic industrial crunch.
Listening to thirty three tracks in a row is an ambitious and tiring task but when cherry picked for its highlights this definitive collection shows the diversity and belief the band have always had in their dark and primal rock music.
this review was first published in The Drum Media