After stalling a bit with their 1982 album Revelations, Killing Joke nearly split up, with lead singer Jaz Coleman disappearing to Iceland in order to "survive the apocalypse." By the time Coleman returned to the band, bassist Youth was gone and replaced by Paul Raven, a perfect fit who would stay on board as the band found its way up the charts over the next few releases. As a reaction to all these comings and goings, this is a decidedly tribal album that opens with a track called "The Gathering," follows it with the "join the mob" anthem "Fun & Games," and features words like "we" and "us" throughout the album. The ultimate communal moment, "Let's All Go (To the Fire Dances)," is also the key track, with guitarist Geordie Walker bouncing between crunching barre chords and a Duane Eddy-on-steroids riff while Raven and drummer Paul Ferguson throb like a veteran rhythm section. Even if Coleman's lyrics are filled with venom as always, he's rounding up allies to fight the system here and considering the idea of connecting with his audience rather than just confronting them. Fire Dances bridges Killing Joke's primal past with their more melodic, accessible future and without compromising any of their thunder.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries