Killing Joke ‘Pylon’ Review: Post-punk icons return to ward off the apocalypse with ass-kicking results.
It seems counterintuitive that a band nearly 40 years in their career sound as angry and passionate as a one in their twenties, but that’s Killing Joke for you. They continually defy nature and expectations, refusing to mellow with age or tone down their furor.
And the British post-punk legends are back with their 15th album, Pylon, after the solid one-two apocalyptic punch of 2010’s Absolute Dissent and 2012’s MMXII.
But Pylon’s stronger production recalls their sleek yet caustic 2003 self-tilted release. Producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood) adds a hard candy shell atop their raging dystopian blues.
Opening track, Autonomous Zone hits the ground running with a strident punk beat and guitarist Geordie Walker’s choppy riff, as vocalist Jaz Coleman calls for a return to nature: living off the grid/no more phones/no drones.
Indeed, Pylon hits on all the disparate elements of Killing Joke’s career throughout: The ethereal Euphoria revisits their underrated 1986 New Wave-flavored release Brighter Than A 1000 Suns, while the trance-inducing New Jerusalem revives Big Paul Ferguson’s tribal drumming, a key element of their early sound that’s been missed on more recent efforts.
New Cold War is a true standout, where Coleman splits the difference between his clean Gregorian chant-like vocals (on the verse) while letting his guttural wail loose on the chorus.
Driven by Walker’s eerie arpeggios, Youth’s pulsing bass and Ferguson’s disco beat, it hearkens back to their Nighttime era.
Coleman’s conspiracy theories and governmental distrust remains his lyrical muse, and the band supports his sonic sermons ably: War on Freedom expertly scratches that paranoid itch, anchored by Walker’s slithering riff and Youth’s hypnotic bassline, while Delete offers a cathartic metallic assault against cutthroat capitalism.
The hacker-friendly I Am The Virus, is the album’s most brutal moment. Coleman fantasizes about becoming the worm that you can never delete! Featuring an insistent industrial riff and cinematic atmosphere, it’s destined to be a permanent addition on all future set-lists.
Killing Joke are the sole proprietors to an undiminished sound that manages to be anti-authoritarian and contrarian while never giving into cynicism or defeat.
Perhaps the reason they never dull with time, is because the world always feels on the brink of collapse. Who else can make sense of it all? They remain the soundtrack to our discontent, and Pylon is a welcome entry into their arsenal.