Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent
Spinefarm Records
Experimental Post-Punk
12 songs (1:02:54)
Release year: 2010
Killing Joke, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

The sad passing of Paul Raven in 2007 had a fierce effect on his former Killing Joke bandmates. Meeting at his funeral, Jaz, Youth, Geordie and Paul Ferguson decided to resurrect the band’s original lineup and this is the result, the band’s fourteenth full-length in thirty-two years. Hard to see how their career can be summed up any better than by this album’s title – absolute dissent, from their politics to the music, and whilst Jaz may no longer be sheltering from the imminent apocalypse in Iceland, he still retains a measure of paranoia as seen from the microwave tower on the album’s cover. That tetchy, frantic fear has always been notable in the band’s sound, and yet there’s a certain, almost serene hopefulness that covers it, a faith in mankind to do the right thing and not get crushed by the Rockefellerian supranational elite. Whilst their peers wanted people to dance, Killing Joke invoked a wardance, a tribal stomping riot that is as relevant in 2010 as it was in the year of the band’s creation, 1978.

Absolute Dissent is a good deal heavier than the self-titled debut of 1980, yet this is notably less akin to the intense Industrial Metal of 2006’s Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell. It does keep a similar heaviness, though, a sludgy, pounding post-punk the best way to sum it up, crashing drums, physically slamming guitars, and a morbid, alive bassline that together form the pitch-black backdrop to Jaz’s rebel yell. Songs are more varied than on their last album, although it starts with a Hosannas-esque stomp in the form of the title track, reflecting the older album’s This Tribal Antidote and setting flame to the blue touchpaper, hidden melodies gradually spiralling out into the inevitable dark explosion in the form of The Great Cull’s Malthusian fears of chemtrails and fluoridation. I have to mention the wonderful The Raven King, an emotional and grandiose track that doesn’t so much mourn Paul Raven as celebrate his anger and the things he felt passionately about. ‘A song for Englishmen’, the band stated in an interview I read, and it certainly has the air of an anthem, a wonderful tribute to the departed Raven and a clarion call for a ‘confederation of the dispossessed/fearing neither god nor master.’

There’s really not a single filler track. It’s impossible not to enjoy the spidery tumbling dub of Fresh Fever From The Skies, a UFO experience described in wistful terms before the uplifting simplicity of In Excelsis soothes nerves with subtle layers of keyboards and a joyful repeated refrain of the song title (celebrating ‘glorious freedom, civil liberties’) setting you up for a bigger shock in the form of the album’s first single, the keyboard-dominated and dance beat-backed European Super State, about as close to techno as the band will ever get. Killing Joke are supporters of the European ideal (as opposed to the Euroscepticism I was expecting on first noting the song title) calling it a ‘civilising force that demands respect’ in this thoughtful track that defines us Europeans as combining ‘Judeo-Christian morality with a Greco-Roman intellect’. However, it’s not perfect in its current form – ‘why are the proud descendants of Plato/paying off more debts accommodating NATO?’ Jaz asks, extorting fellow citizens as the ‘caretakers of democracy’ to help build a new empire from the Baltic to the streets of Gibraltar – ‘ours to build, ours the choice’.

This optimism translates well to the rest of the album, with exceptions like This World Hell taking Godflesh-esque bludgeoning and elevates it to a towering, later Ministry-esque wail of outrage. Honour The Fire’s restrained melody is very effective, as is Depth Charge’s juddering sermon on imminent environmental catastrophe. Jaz even does a little singing on Here Comes The Singularity, and the album closes with the dubbed-up Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove, a tribute to the place where the second wave of punk was born and where Killing Joke used to rehearse downstairs from The Clash. It’s a potent reminder of the band’s roots, their underappreciated importance to musical history, and closes the album on a reflective note. Ultimately, Killing Joke 2010 are just as vital and exciting as Killing Joke 1980, and Absolute Dissent is a powerful and compelling album that gets better with each listen.

Killing Songs :
Absolute Dissent, Fresh Fever From The Skies, In Excelsis, European Super State, The Raven King, Ghosts Of Ladbroke Grove
Goat quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Killing Joke that we have reviewed:
Killing Joke - MMXII reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Killing Joke - Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell reviewed by Goat and quoted 88 / 100
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