Killing Joke

Absolute Dissent

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Killing Joke's 2010 release sees the band's lineup returning to its earliest incarnation, with vocalist Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker (the only two constant members) rejoined by bassist Youth and drummer Paul Ferguson for the first time since 1982. They're playing at full strength, with the rhythm section pumping hard on the opening title track and the three that follow it. But on track five, "European Super State," the album takes a surprising turn toward retro, synth-driven disco-pop, sounding like an outtake from Laibach's NATO. They recover quickly, though, with "This World Hell," one of the heaviest and ugliest tracks on the entire album. There are a few other surprises (the soft and kinda catchy "Honour the Fire"; the ballad "The Raven King," dedicated to late bassist Paul Raven; the dubbed-out "Ghost of Ladbroke Grove"), but for the most part, this is a monolithic slab of Killing Joke at their most forceful, focused, and aggressive. It's not totally surprising -- their self-titled 2003 album and 2006's Hosannas from the Basements of Hell, particularly the latter, have practically been the rock equivalent of life-extinguishing meteors -- but it's damn nice to hear a band still operating at this level after more than 30 years into its career.

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