The glorious Killing Joke return shortly after two years and the very succesful ”Absolute Dissent” in 2010, with their fifteenth album since 1980, simply entitled ”MMXII”, meaning ”2012” in the ancient Roman way of writing. Little is to be said about their importance as a group through the decades. I stated how large their influence was on my review of ”Absolute Dissent” and to repeat it would be pointless, so let’s just focus on the album. After the loss of their long gone friend Paul Raven, we have the same line-up for the second album in a row and the team continues to play in a very high level, delivering a very special album, which emphasizes on various subjects and in general, it takes a large dive into what the year of 2012 is about, considering it’s supposed to be the last human kind is going to witness, according to the Mayan prophecies of course.
Opening with ”Pole Shift”, a dark, slow and crawling nine-minute piece, ”MMXII” puts you in a bitter climate that’s going to change sometimes but will leave you thinking again of some things you might have taken for granted. According to frontman Jaz Coleman, ”This year is about getting our collective dreams in order, restoring the biosphere, the idea of well-being as opposed to economic growth, the idea of partnership and co-creation with fellow human beings, moving away from national boundaries and more towards what Schiller and Beethoven were saying in some of their work”. So you get a point about the concept of the album, which lasts about 51 minutes, shorter enough compared to its predecessor. On the same way follows ”Fema Camp”, a track refering to Federal Emergency Management Agency and how martial law can be used against civilians supposed to be a threat for the U.S. national security. A track which surrounds you and makes you think the whole album is going to be like that. Wrong!
”Rapture” is the first track that was available for the album and initiates a series of tracks which bring the tempo a little up. It sounds redeeming compared to the first two tracks. Another interesting quote from Coleman comes for this track, ”Rapture” is the way I perceive a Killing Joke concert — it’s a spiritual experience for myself to get into that state of grace… music is the theme of mantra. I’m not into organized religion at all, but I’ve always liked what Fela Kuti did in Nigeria, playing music like it was a temple. Maybe we will evolve into a time where we will be performing for ritualistic and spiritual reasons alone and not for monetary reasons”? Having been able to attent a Killing Joke show two years ago, I must tell you that it’s not just a spiritual experience for the fans also, but a lifetime profit for everyone that loves this band, the way they present their tracks and their simple but also theatric presence, makes them an even larger band than you can imagine.
”Colony Collapse” and ”Corporate Elect” which follow, raise the tempo again, making the album balanced in its first half, some industrial touch on the first one and some more sloppy punk riffing on the second one close the first five tracks. ”In Cythera” is a reference about the Greek island under the same name, a place for which a lot have been written and the interesting ancient story that ancient Greek goddess Aphrodite was born there. It is also the first single of ”MMXII” and Coleman’s voice seems to take you to a trip round this beautiful place, or whichever else you can imagine. ”Primobile” is a track on the rhythm of the first two ones, with some sweet hidden melodies that take you as a captive, though you don’t seem to wanna let go. ”Glitch” that comes next, is a track ideal to follow in order to wake you up from the dreamy state you were in, with Coleman more aggressive than everywhere else on the album. A wide range of vocals is what he once again presents, making him one of the most charismatic singers of all time in all kinds of music.
The last duo of the album, gives it an even better final taste, with ”Trance” being the second longest track after ”Pole Shift”, and the ending ”On All Hallows Eve” being the shortest one on the album. In the end, what you surely understand is that ”MMXII” is a difficult album at first, but becomes a grower very rapidly and includes all Killing Joke beloved elements of their past albums. You will listen tracks that may remind you of each album of the band, but the final result is pure Killing Joke circa 2012. The end of the album is like waving goodbye to this year and the world in general, just like looking from high above everything getting destroyed slowly. The whole approach of the album looks on the future on the other hand, and makes me consider that Killing Joke haven’t used all their genius yet, as there is much more to come. For the time being, sit back and enjoy another brilliant release of the band. It doesn’t matter if you like it more or less than past albums, all that matters is that Killing Joke is still active and make us smile.
01. Pole Shift
02. Fema Camp
04. Colony Collapse
05. Corporate Elect
06. In Cythera
10. On All Hallow’s Eve
|Jaz Coleman – Vocals, Synthesizer
Kevin “Geordie” Walker – Guitar
Martin “Youth” Glover – Bass guitar, Synthesizer
Paul Ferguson – Drums