Monday, August 8, 2011

Killing Joke - what's THIS for...!

what's THIS for...! (1981) ***1/2

This album was written in the studio and it shows.  If you're looking for song songs, you won't find any.  What you will find are endless vamps that were obviously written around in-the-studio band jams, which means that vocals, verses, and lead guitar take a backseat to Paul Ferguson's tribal drums, which are for all intents and purposes the lead instrument on this particular KJ LP.  Sprinkle on top washes of ultra-heavy, distorted guitar that's so pure rhythm to call it rhythm guitar is understatement, and shouted gang choruses that provide the songs' sole attempt at a centered structure, and you have the recipe for every single track on this album.  Unlike the debut LP, this platter contains zero, and I mean Z-E-R-O, sonic variety:  it's one of those albums that all flow along as one big, fat track.  To bring back the Sabbath comparison, if the debut was Paranoid with a handful of classic tracks + filler, this is Master of Reality:  the band have settled into their patented style of maximum heaviosity a little too consistently, but if you're looking for skull-crushing power, 'real' songs be damned.  The extreme repetition is a serious drawback, and no, I don't necessarily mean from track to track in the same style (though that is a problem), it's also that the individual tracks are themselves extremely repetitive, all based upon repetitive riffs that repetitively repeat throughout repetitively.  The biggest offender is "Madness," as it drags on for nearly eight minutes with Jaz Coleman bellowing, "This is madness!" over and over in what appears to be the song's sole lyric.  You see, because unlike the debut, this time out Coleman seemed to not particularly bother with verses, but simply wrote choruses for every, ahem, 'song' on the album.  Anywhatever, plus sides are that it's more sonically original and distinct than the debut, with this album probably more than any other defining the klassik Killing Joke 'sound'; and like I said, it's the type of album that when you want to envelope yourself in a cocoon of a pure wash of tribalistic, crushing yet danceable heaviness, this is a mood piece that no other album can compare with. 

P.S.  The acronym for this album is WTF.  I have no idea if that was intentional or not.  Just thought you'd like to know if you hadn't noticed already.

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