Killing Joke MMXII

Killing JokeMMXII
For an album signalling the end, or at least a dramatic transformation, of the world we know (hence the title's reference to 2012), the newest Killing Joke record is unsettlingly laidback. The lyrics are still full of cutting observations and social critiques (take the anti-capitalism slant of "Corporate Elect," for example), but the urgency driving 2010's Absolute Dissent has shifted into something more akin to a sense of anticipation. Not that MMXII doesn't have its harsher, heavier moments. Killing Joke's rhythms and riffs can be as insistent and distorted as ever, frontman Jaz Coleman's shouts are distinctively gruff and the melodies and harmonies are often dark, even ominous. But there's also a lilting, almost playful fluidity that keeps surfacing that undercuts the angst. It's like opening line "it doesn't really matter" is both entirely sincere and an ironic statement to emphasize that everything, music included, matters very much. But the playfulness almost seems to undermine the album's lingering impact, as if it's too slippery to really hang on to once closer "On All Hallow's Eve" comes to an end. (Spinefarm)