"Absolute Dissent"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Nobody but nobody can be mistaken for Killing Joke. The UK band is as unique as they are unclassifiable. And that is one hell of an achievement in a world full of bands that beg to be compared to somebody else. I believe 2010 marks Killing Joke's 30th year of existence, which they celebrate with the reuniting of their original core line-up and the new album "Absolute Dissent".

"Absolute Dissent" is a great anniversary album because it runs the gamut of KJ's ever-morphing sound. Long-time fans complained the last album "Hosannas From the Basement of Hell" was too raw and metal compared to their 80's material and I can agree with that, though I liked that album. The Joke is not simply a "metal" band but what the hell are they? You tell me! "Absolute Dissent" does have its raw moments, based on those simple but penetrating bass riffs from Youth but there are some more "alternative" bits, too. This gives the record a bit more flow than "Hosannas...". In fact, the danceable "European Super State" and the appropriately spectral No-Wave bounce of "The Ghost of Ladbroke Grove" are two of my favorite songs. The subdued and keyboard-augmented "The Raven King" really isn't a fave, but it provides a very necessary break in the action and should please those into KJ's earliest material.

All the Joke trademarks are here in abundance, none more so than the shaman's howl vocals of Jaz Coleman. He's a guy like Lemmy or Geddy Lee that you can't confuse with anybody else, the court jester that provides the punch line to the Killing Joke. Of the other songs here, they all have that tribal, grimy pull to them, with "This World Hell" being brutally heavy, "Depthcharge" squirming with snaky riffs and "The Great Cull" and "End Game" providing some real chest-beaters with cool vocal hooks. Some of it still seems to drone on a tad long, but on the whole, I can't see any Killing Joke fan disliking this. If you've never heard the band before, this is a GREAT place to start.