Thursday, 19 April 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #144 - Killing Joke, "MMXII"

This is another album that I've seen waiting for more time to appreciate, but as that time doesn't seem to be materialising soon, I'll press on with an undercooked effort of appreciation.

Killing Joke is not a band I know a lot about. They were slightly before my time in terms of indie disco and have remained firmly beneath the radar in a way The Sisters of Mercy (for example) couldn't manage. The post-Apocalyptic angle put me off as well - I feared black metal posturing and witchy stagecraft. It sounded very serious in a way that I was worried might make me laugh. And we're in 2012 now, that most Apocalyptic of years - since 1999 at least. And the album is called 2012. Oh, cripes!

So I listen. "Pole Shift" is presumably about the idea that the magnetic poles are going to reverse at some point in the future and cause geological annihilation. Stunning Carpenter/Vangelis synth pulses and strings frame it magnificently. "Fema Camp" has waves of lava guitar, boiling inexorably into the sea: mirroring the inexorably, oxygen-sucking pressure of a global superpower and its oppressive relationship with is own citizens. Dense and layered like rock itself is dense and layered. "Rapture" sits on top of more titanic music.

Jaz and the band seem to be exhilarated from the rush of narrating their vision of the Eschaton. Like goths having a great time down the disco thrashing about to Nine Inch Nails or Rammstein. That's the kind of penetrating insight you can expect from me this evening. I've read that the idea behind the collection is that after our shitty society collapses, what is left can re-organise itself along healthier, happier lines. (Not that I'll know much about it.) Maybe that explains the positive vibes.

"Colony Collapse" is purportedly about the problems of disappearing bees, but I can't hear more than an occasional phrase from the lyrics in the maelstrom. "The future doesn't need us" is all I can make out while guitars form a smashing rainbow of black gravities. On "Corporate Elect" there's something about "an ADD generation" but I got bored and stopped listening. (Ho ho!)

"In Cythera" forges a link with the Killing Joke of the Eighties that produced "Love Like Blood", the dreamier side of the dark intensity with which they burn. I'm back at that indie disco again in some early Nineties student night. "Glitch" is the most metal of the offerings - "Everyone's at boiling point/And no-one's got the ..." What? I can't make out what the fuck he's singing. I get the distinct impression the lyrics will be good, but I've not heard one complete sentence to report back on or consider.

The album closes with "On All Hallow's Eve" - faked electronic mass choir and the story of the morning after the civilisation before. "The graveyards forgotten/The churches are rotting now/I recall now the time's past/And how much I miss you all" and it all sounds quite peaceful. At least as powerful as post-Apocalyptic is likely to get. Not as peaceful as the end of Charlie Brooker's "Dead Set" when all the living are gone and only the zombies stare mutely and peacefully into nothing.

That kind of new civilisation.

Rating: Lava out of Apocalypse

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