On their previous releases, John Zorn's trio Pain Killer veered back and forth between grindcore-inspired mayhem (Mick Harris of Napalm Death was part of the original lineup), dub-wise explorations of musical space, and Zorn's trademark take on free jazz. The Prophecy: Live in Europe, an album compiled from live Pain Killer performances recorded in Europe during 2004 and 2005, sounds like an effort to bridge the gaps between the group's various obsessions; with Bill Laswell on electric bass and Tatsuya Yoshida on drums joining Zorn on sax, this edition of Pain Killer can generate massive sheets of noise at will, but amidst the chaos there's plenty of room for quiet passages and post-bebop detours as the musicians search for coherence in their improvisational explorations. The Prophecy begins and ends with two short pieces that suggest the Stooges' "L.A. Blues" on steroids, but the centerpiece is the 65-minute title track, an aural journey that offers an epic-scale guided tour through Pain Killer's musical world view. As one might expect, Laswell is rarely content to hold down the root, instead bounding up and down the scale in tandem with Zorn or standing in for electric guitar with furious blasts of distortion and wah. Yoshida isn't as heavy a hitter as Harris, but he's far more precise and every bit as inventive as his bandmates, laying out a barrage of beats and rhythmic patterns that shift with the constantly changing musical landscape. And though Zorn shares generously with Laswell and Yoshida, as in most of his projects, The Prophecy is ultimately his show, and his sprints through the peaks and valleys of this music are a fascinating and telling reflection of his restless musical imagination. Appearing seven years after it was recorded and over ten years after the last proper Pain Killer album, it's not difficult to read The Prophecy as a summing up of Zorn and Laswell's experiment in fusing free jazz and extreme metal, and it ultimately turns out to be more than the sum of its parts, making it compelling listening.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming