Killing Joke - For Beginners

For the uninitiated let me tell you a little bit about Killing Joke. They formed in Notting Hill in 1978. Last year the band made a successful comeback, their first album since 1996's "Democracy", with the well received self titled "Killing Joke". I reviewed their Preston gig at the Mill last year and let me tell you this - age had not mellowed the band. The ferocity, danger and powerful music remained intact. "For Beginners..." is many things, a compilation, best of, retrospective and a good introduction to Killing Joke.

"Butcher" though isn't one of their finest moments. There's a generous helping of industrial noise. Jaz Coleman's vocal is very low in the mix which is carried along by a heavy bass and slightly melodic guitars. It's a touch on the morbid side and self indulgent, but there's certainly controlled anger at work here. "Fun And Games" opens with a chiming Grandfather Clock only to be totally eclipsed by thundering drums. This track has a primal energy and rhythmic thrusts with guitars so sleazy they should be illegal. This is really powerful and punchy music packed with gothic undertones and a snarling cockney vocal. "Come And Play" he pleads chillingly. Can I phone a friend Jaz, I think i'll pass on thanks mate.

"Victory" recalls vintage Depeche Mode but with an irresistible funk factor. The epic sounding dance grooves, gravely vocals, synths and bass have a commercial appeal that's hard not to like. Lyrically it's full of it's own self importance, but at least his focus is crystal clear. As serious as any Gary Numan track, Killing Joke slow things down on "My Love Of This Land" which is mellow but moody, slow and enjoyable. It may veer towards dreaded soft rock but is edgy to the core. Remarkably Coleman's voice morphs into dramatic Marc Almond mode. The lyric "lazy dreams and summer haze" captures the atmospheric mood perfectly.

"For Beginners..." is a good place to start when seeking out the extensive body of work Killing Joke have in their back catalogue.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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