Monday, August 22, 2011

Killing Joke - Revelations

Revelations (1982) **

Stylistically this is more or less a carbon copy of the preceding album - a bunch of tuneless tribal vamps - with more of an effort on the songwriting side (i.e., some of these are actual songs) but curiously, all the energy seems to have been sucked out of the band's performances, leaving it a pale and weak followup.  The problems reside perhaps more in the presentation than the material (I mean, hell, who cares about the software input, this band is all about the hardware - KJ are the definition of a sound-not-song band).  What the band steps forward with glossier production is muted by several giant steps back in.....wait, wait, that metaphor isn't quite working.  Let me just nix metaphors and say that the production sucks.  The drums don't pound like steamhammers, they pound like....drums.  Ordinary rock drums.  The guitar doesn't scream and tear with the crushing power of 10,000 wasps.  It buzzes like 100 angry bees muffled in a cloth-covered jar.  And the bass?  It's still there, but it's buried, and only really makes itself noticed in a few song intros.  Jaz Coleman still rants the same as "normal" (ha ha) and he's actually writing verses with real lyrics - but who cares?  Minus the inhuman power of technology behind him, he's just another mentally deranged conspiracy theorist jabbering into the void.  Oh well, at least the dark atmosphere is retained, and it's even darker - "We Have Joy," has to be the least joyful song ever written with that title.  Y'know, if Killing Joke were a classic novel, they would be Lord of the Flies.  This is very Lord of the Flies rock, to coinage yet another useless genre rock-crit term.  (Please, don't let any emo band [i.e., ordinary pop-punk dressed up in fancy twelve-dollar words] or heavy metal band [i.e., the genre with 1,000 microgenres even though all the bands dress the same, look the same, act the same, sing similar lyrics, and play the same damn kind of music] get ahold of this review.  Somebody might actually try to fob off their band as WilliamGoldingCore).  "Chop Chop," has a nice drone to it and will do as my pick for the best track (as if I'm ever actually going to listen to this thing willingly again to confirm).  The spare and strummy "Good Samaritan," is the worst track.  "Dregs," contains the sounds of Coleman simulating vomiting.  And that's as much thought as I intend to ever give this album again for the rest of my natural life.

P.S. After this album was released, the band broke up and several members fled to Iceland to shelter from impending nuclear apocalypse.  That Bjork was sired from the loins of a tryst between Jaz Coleman and Mark E. Smith is entirely an urban legend, at least in the one urban center of that entire island (Reykjavik, pop. 120,000, and over 200,000 in the Greater Reykvajik Area).

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