Absolute Dissent

Spinefarm Records


Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven died of a heart attack three years ago today so the release yesterday of the Joke’s latest studio album, Absolute Dissent, is appropriate and a wonderful tribute to his memory, as is the fact that the record itself is absolutely killer.

The current KJ line-up – Jaz Coleman (vocals, keys), Geordie (guitar), “Big” Paul Ferguson (drums) and Youth (bass) – is the very same one that recorded their first three albums so their reunion some 27 years after is apt. That Absolute Dissent, their fourteenth album, is alternately as brutal and exultant as anything the band has recorded is testament not only to their musicianship but to the undiminished passion that powers them.

The opening title track provides a familiar cacophony which is tempered by Coleman’s melody and harmony vocals, as well as Youth’s galloping bass. Indeed, there are several songs which recall the band’s ‘80s sound, including the totally danceable first single, ‘European Super State’, and the reggae-ish album closer ‘Ghosts of Ladbroke Grove’. But they also prove that Ferguson’s famous description of the band’s sound as “the sound of the Earth vomiting” still applies, most notably on ‘The Great Cull’ and ‘This World Hell’, whose double kickdrums help make it heavier than most contemporary metal.

But the quality which comes out most strongly on Absolute Dissent – and which most critics overlook – is the sheer joy in their music. While generally thought to be dark and brooding – hence their adoption by Goths and punks – Killing Joke has always made music that celebrates life and exhorts us to embrace it while we’re alive, hence the glorious racket of ‘In Excelsis’ and ‘The Raven King’ (yes, a touching tribute to the band’s fallen comrade).

Thirty years releasing their first album, Killing Joke prove that age is no deterrent to making great music if a band has will and passion.


Rating: 4/5


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