00602547511621_KillingJoke_Pylon_DLX_rollfold.inddMany older bands, once established, will eventually coast by just on their name alone. Sure, they’ll cut a new album every few years, but it never lives up to their influential works of yesteryear. It’s often an excuse to go out on the road, play nothing but the classics, and bring home the money while also hocking wares that have nothing to do with the band’s original intent. England’s Killing Joke, however, are a unique beast. Almost 40 years into their storied career, they’ve influenced groups as disparate as LCD SoundsystemMy Bloody ValentineNine Inch Nails, and Metallica just by utilizing any and all genres suitable to deliver their brand of poetic vitriol. Now, completing the triptych that started with 2010’s Absolute Dissent and continued with 2012’s MMXII, we have Pylon to analyze and mull over. I will say right now that you would be forgiven if you thought the band would finally sound like they are running out of steam and would finally be outed as bitter, cranky old men baring unnecessary resentment. You would also be proven absolutely dead-wrong within a matter of seconds.

You probably scrolled to the bottom of the page, saw the score, and are wondering if it’s really that good. If you enjoyed the anger brought forth in Absolute Dissent but felt a little let down by MMXII, then Pylon will wipe the floor with you. “Autonomous Zone” continues the long tradition of relentlessly angry openers, recalling 1990’s Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions in terms of sheer urgency and a bit of danceability, thanks to the solid, driving drumming of Paul Ferguson, Geordie Walker’s recognizable distorted open-chord mayhem, and Jaz Coleman’s prophesying. Speaking of Coleman, his voice continues to hold up quite well, and he sounds just as focused and commanding as he did in his earlier days, mixing both honey and venom in potent amounts. Quite the ear-catching opener.

Speaking of venom, there is absolutely no shortage of it to be found on Pylon. This album is thankfully free of anything that could be considered a ballad. Instead the purpose is to engage, inform, and enrage. While there isn’t a bad song on here, some are going to rise higher than others, but all are potent ragers. “Euphoria” comes closest to the band’s gothic period, sounding both dance-worthy and fist-clenching. “Delete” reaches back to the second (and grossly underrated) self-titled album from 2003, with Pig Youth’s bass sounding particularly grimy and thick. “New Jerusalem” tricks you with a happy drum beat while Coleman calls out a pet peeve of mine: corporate media poisoning our airwaves with useless bullshit while serious and heinous crimes go unabated and ignored (“Charmed, no attention span/No empathy for the common man”). Hi, Facebook!

KILLING JOKE_2015a

Produced by the band and Tom Dalgety, Pylon may be lacking in dynamics, but it still sounds great. Youth’s bass is chunky and driving, Walker’s signature tone remains powerfully intact, and the drums sound especially beastly (seriously, that breakdown just after the first chorus in “New Jerusalem” is thundering and rage-inducing). But what makes this album such an incredible success is just how fluid Killing Joke are when it comes to jumping styles to convey particular messages instead of trapping themselves in one mode. It’s this exact reason why Killing Joke are still so vibrant, so seething, and so utterly convincing in their delivery. You can’t fake sincerity.

Here I was, just hoping that Killing Joke would bring us all an album of decent songs, as they’ve been on an absolute tear since the original line-up regrouped in 2008. Instead, they released an emphatic statement of intent, proclaiming that complacency, ignorance, and lack of empathy will not be tolerated on their watch. Pylon is one for the ages, and I hope and pray that when I’m in my fifties, I’m just as focused, driven, and passionately scathing in my views of the world. Timely, yet timeless.


Rating: 5.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Spinefarm Records
Websites: killingjoke.com | facebook.com/killingjokeofficial
Released Worldwide: October 23, 2015

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  • Kryopsis

    Growing up, I could never understand the Killing Joke worship. Later, when I finally got it, I was astonished when I learned just how many of my favourite bands and even entire genres were influenced by this legendary band. First-rate review, by the way.

    • Grymm

      Me too. In fact, KJ didn’t click for me until their second self-titled (with Dave Grohl on drums… holy shit, did he fucking OWN on that album). Since then, I’ve been enjoying them with a critical ear. They seriously brought it on here.

      And thank you for the kind words!

      • Kryopsis

        After I started appreciating KJ, half the fun was from revisiting older albums and tracing parallels to more recent bands. You mentioned Metallica and LCD Soundsystems but take Fear Factory for instance: that band practically owes everything to Killing Joke. The thing is, KJ is far more versatile than many of the bands it inspired (and outlived). I remember reading an article where David Bowie was presented as this progressive force in popular music that manages to predict most of the major styles, from Art Rock to Drum and Bass. If that’s the case, Killing Joke is like a heavier version of Bowie. Whereas Ministry is content releasing the same bunch of songs over and over, KJ has been all over the place and yet remains a consistent (though underrated) band worthy of respect.

        • did you just compare Killing Joke to David Bowie?

          Look, he’s had some bad moments. Yeah. But he’s fucking almost 70 now. You just back off man. His last album was fantastic. He’s a god. Don’t you insult the genius with this pseudo-industrial metal drivel. He made his industrial metal drivel (Outside)
          and it was a hell of a lot better album than this one.

          • Based Potoo

            Lol

          • Grymm

            Umm… as a fan of both Bowie AND KJ (as well as Bauhaus, Peter Murphy, and similar artists), what’s wrong with liking both?

          • Kryopsis

            I’m not insulting Bowie’s undeniable genius by comparing him to Killing Joke. On the other hand, your comment is not just an insult to a venerable pioneering band, it is an insult to etiquette and common sense. It’s okay liking either one of the artists, both or neither. It’s not okay being an sermonizing dick about it.

          • “Sermonizing,” I don’t think this word means what you think it means.

            In any case, just messing with you man.

          • Kryopsis

            You delivered a sermon where you literally said Bowie is a god. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

      • Iron Moth

        Grohl pales in comparison to the machine that is Paul Ferguson – and as a huge Grohl fan, I don’t say that lightly. Seeing KJ live, I can vouch for the fact that Ferguson is a FUCKING BEAST behind the kit. Pylon is a massive album. The tour should be interesting to say the least…

        • Grymm

          Paul did a bang-up job on here. Solid and pummeling.

          He’s quickly becoming a favorite drummer of mine.

  • El_Cuervo

    A 5? A 5?! FUCKING RIOT EVERYONE, THEY’VE SOLD OUT

    • OCCUPY AMG!!

      • Grymm

        DAMN THE MAN!!! SAVE THE EMPIRE!!! UNLOCK MY GODDAMN CAPS-LOCK KEY!!!

        • Yegar

          I enjoy how the comment section just turned into the staff yelling at each other. I wouldn’t have it any other ay

  • JESUS DID THIS JESUS DID THIS

  • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

    It would be hard for me to dislike that cover more than I already do.

    • Not spherical enough for you?

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        NOTHING EVER IS!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      That cover looks like some failed exercise from Photoshop class.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Reminds me of Cecilia Gimenez’s “restoration” of the Ecce Homo fresco.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Ecce Mono! You made me laugh my ass off with that comment! This cover certainly look in the style of Cecilia Gimenez, but Ecce Mono would have made a better cover. Really.

      • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

        10 minutes with public domain images.

        • madhare

          :D That’s too post-something and shoegaze for KJ.

          • Pimpolho

            Still better than the actual art, though.

          • dduuurrrr dddduuuurrrr

            How about a take on the Great gatsby Cover as a variant

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            This cover is like a thousand times better than the original one. But I agree this is the kind of cover art a Post-band would use.
            Gosh I hate that “post” term. I means nothing. Bullshit.

          • madhare

            Totally agree on the criticism of “post” term. There are several post-x things in music, where I still don’t understand what people mean.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            “Post” actually means “after”. So post-punk would be after-punk and post-rock would be after-rock. So it´s basically a bullshit term some journalist used 30 years ago to describe some music he couldn´t label better and sadly the term stuck.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Looks like it could be one of Away’s leftovers from Target Earth

      • Kronos

        Oh come on, it’s not that bad… it is really bad though.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I could be the only person in the universe that likes that art :) it looks works better in hard copy…

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            May I suggest a visit to your local optometrist?

  • whut?

    • The dream is over. Erase the hard drives and burn the office.

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        Sigh… whose cars should I start syphoning from this time…?

        • Everyone on staff except me drives a Prius, so can’t really help you there.

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            I just assumed those vehicles were owned by the other metal review office next door…

            Well, I better go buy some gas. Can I get the AMG credit card, please?

          • No. Most definitely no.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      So you DO read your own blog. Or do you just look at the score, like most of us?

      • Don’t poke the Angry Metal Landlord.

      • LOL.

        Of course I read the blog, YOU SHUT UP!

        • André Snyde Lopes

          Trolling aside, did you listen to this album? Just curious about your actual opinion on it.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            It takes some guts to call on the blog owner for trolling on his own blog.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            I was talking about my own comment. I like this website too much to be that suicidal (or banicidal if you want).

          • No, I am just rabble rousing. Imma haffa listen, though, since Bob went and Metalgasmed all over it.

    • GooberMan

      Something something diminishing something something complete?

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      tfw you are so confused you feature your own comment

  • SelfIndulgence

    Kept seeing I am the Walrus during that vid. I need help.

  • Pimpolho

    OH SHIT. A 5. I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PROCEED. CAPS LOCK EVERYWHERE.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    So this is as good as White Wizzard and that Emerson Lake and Palmer record from last year? Hot damn!

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Nothing is as good as White Wizzard. Except maybe Jorn’s Dracula: Swing of Death.

      • Never put Lord Jorn’s name in the same sentence as WW!

        • André Snyde Lopes

          The main difference between Jorn and WW is that I’ve listened to more White Wizzard records than Jorn records. :D

          • Consult a doctor and a witch doktor.

          • Dr_Fisting

            And Doctor Rocktor.

          • Hell, he might as well get a consult from Doctor Detroit.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            I am beyond help.

          • Grymm

            And Dr. Pepper.

            Or Pepper Keenan.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Or D. Pepper Keenan.

          • FutureBeyondSatan

            Or Dr. Kevorkian

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Now that someone else mentioned White Wizzard may I chip in?

          • Dr. A.N. Grier

            NO!!!!!

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Bah! I didn’t want to, anyway…

    • Grymm

      I can’t stop laughing at this comment.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    No joke, I’m listening to this album right now as I saw the review get posted and I’m liking it a lot. 5.0 or not, you folks should definitely pick this one up.

  • Luis Onieva Marenco

    As a “just a watcher of this holy place but not anymore” guy, I see the rating and my open window and I throw my laptop through it completely enraged because you guys have gone nuts and lost your personal touch and common s

    • Down with us!

    • Grymm

      You threw your laptop without completing your raging paragraph.

      My hat’s off to you, Sir.

      • Luis Onieva Marenco

        That´s the High Quality Rage that only internet can provide.

  • aaron bergman

    As a guy in my 50s, I am just thrilled. Worth fixing my pacemaker and changing the batteries in my hearing aids. If only I can get my walker back from the shop.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You must be on your second set of 50s

      • aaron bergman

        Only in terms of crankiness. :)

  • Won’t somebody please think of C.H.I.L.D.R.E.N.??

  • Oscar Albretsen

    Glad to see Alice Cooper’s still trucking.

  • sssgadget

    Something’s Gone Horribly Wrong!

  • Thatguy

    I too am ‘whut?’

    Sounds damn good though.

    See ya, Grymm.

    • He had a good run.

      • Grymm

        Goodbye!

        *waves, pauses*

        Wait…

  • KingKuranes

    Yes! I just saw this was on Spotify this morning and listened to it all the way through. It is excellent – while it’s hard for me to call an album “perfect” there are no clunkers on this one.

    • Ooh, didn’t it was up anywhere. Gonna have to break with tradition and boot up Spotify.

  • Alexandre Barata

    When I think of a 5/5 in an AMG review I imagine something magical, like a unicorn-riding virgin farting ever so slightly in our faces. Although this is not bad, it isn’t a fart of a nice virgin riding a freakin UNICORN!!!

    • Oscar Albretsen

      I’d personally prefer this.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Whoahhhhh though if you think about it this band is no stranger to making ‘perfect’ records…
    A compelling review Grymm I can’t wait to check this out!

  • UishidoX

    is this kvlt?? is it…. kvlt…please somebody tell me!!!!

  • It’s just like Nietzsche said in the Parable of the Madman. When it’s Oct 26 and there’s still no Album of the Month for September, then there’s no standard by which to judge good from bad. No way to tell up from down, left from right, or a 5.0 from a 4.5. And this happens.

  • Austin Goodrich

    I scrolled to the bottom page, saw the score, and was wondering if it’s really that good. I scrolled back up and happened to stop right at the sentence, “You probably scrolled to the bottom of the page, saw the score, and are wondering if it’s really that good.” WHAT MIND-READING BLACK MAGIC IS AT WORK HERE

    • Francesco Bordoni

      HOLY JUMPING FUCKING CHRIST I WAS SCARED SHITLESS TOO

  • Jm from nj

    So it seems like based on my cursory listen of this, that I am more prone to liking the more “gothic” songs. What period of Killing Joke’s work has more of that stuff? Or does more recent work still have these gothic overtones?

    • Dr_Fisting

      Most of their records seem to have at least a few songs in that vein. The goth-iest are probably their last one “MMXII,” along with “Democracy” and the extremely ’80s-sounding “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns.”

  • Excentric_1307

    Welp, it was nice knowing ya, Grymm. You had such a good run, too…

  • John Mosley

    This aesthetic is not for me. A tepid mix of Bauhaus and Orgy/Stabbing Westward B-Sides.

    • “I don’t understand this, so I think I’ll compare it to some shitty records I bought 15 years ago.”

      • John Mosley

        Hurt your feelers? Sorry little buddy.

        • I’ll survive.

          Here’s the deal: As the review alluded, KJ are a pioneering post-punk act that cast a wide net of influences AND have been around long enough to call Joy Division contemporaries. Metallica covered ’em on Garage Days, Grohl played on their “comeback” record, and they’ve left an indelible imprint on multiple subgenres.

          You compared them to a flash-in-the-pan band that enjoyed a moment of notoriety in 1999 because they 1) covered one of the best-selling singles of all-time, and 2) were the first signing to Jonathan Davis’ failed record label.

          Furthermore, negatively comparing them to Stabbing Westward–who had a handful of pretty good songs–is like bagging on Metallica because they sound too much like Trivium.

          Context is key, bro.

          • John Mosley

            So… If Killing Joke, Orgy, and Stabbing Westward were on tour together, you are saying that likely they would headline? Could I ammend my initial comment to, a watered-down Swans with touches of Skinny-Puppy? (Just trying to get your goat. You seen quite partial to them. I’ll check out their back catalogue sometime. Perhaps it’ll click.)

    • Grymm

      Everyone has an opinion, but Orgy and Stabbing Westward aren’t anywhere near the same league as Killing Joke.

      • John Mosley

        Hey, glad it tickles your pickle. friend-o. Perhaps I’ll give it another spin in hopes of getting the joke. On aside, I do love the band’s moniker.

    • Dr_Fisting

      Stabbing Westward? Really, dude?

      • John Mosley

        Really. Dude.

  • Shangsean

    Just not hearing anything special in this. It sounds like a mix of generic hard rock and watered down punk with rather flat song writing. Each to their own though, it doesn’t mean it’s not a 5. It’s just not for me.

  • SuzyC

    Been listening to KJ since 1982. Whether ‘Pylon’ is a “5” or not is strictly a matter of opinion, but while their recent albums have been plenty impressive, this blew me away like ED&VRE and the two self-titled albums did. Who still has this much piss and vinegar left after nearly 40 years?

    • Grymm

      Funny you should mention those three records, because that’s exactly what Pylon reminded me of. Those are easily their three best, and this one joins that group effortlessly.

  • Luke_22

    I’ve had very limited exposure to their work previously but this sounds like a rager from the bits I’ve heard so far. Whether or not you agree with Grymm’s perfect score, it’s an excellent, passionately written review and most certainly a high quality album.

  • De2013

    Based on the totals number of comments here and the use of ALLCAPS, we certainly have an AMG 9/11 moment here.This review is a milestone in AMG history. 10 years from now everbody will be talking about it, where they were reading this review like ‘Do you remember when KJ received a 5/5 score? Yeah dude I was at the office and I couldn’t believe I actually witnessed this in realtime. Wow.’

    Great review Grymm! Will check this out.

    • As a New Yorker, I’d say go easy with the 9-11 metaphors. No good comes of that.

      • De2013

        Apologies for that Steel Druhm. That wasn’t very clever/empathic of me. Thus removed the reference.

  • 5.0? I’m not really hearing it. I really think the linked song is somewhat boring and should have been 2½ minutes long at most. Some of the drumming is neat enough, but that is one incredibly repetitive song.
    I remember being sort of hyped for that album they put out in 2010 but my love faded fast. I guess my appreciation of Killing Joke (modern, at least) is purely superficial, as I think there’s a nice, thick, menacing vibe to their music – but that gets old fast when the songs (or the singing) just aren’t all that interesting under the surface.

  • Philip Pledger

    Sorry, but I just can’t get past the lyrics in the embedded track. “No one believes in 9/11” just makes me cringe. Call it close-mindedness or call it cognitive dissonance, but I simply cannot appreciate this.

    • Yeah, that puts a major crimp in my enjoyment as well.

      • It’s best to remember that Jaz is a certified crazyperson. Duder wrote a song called “Blood on Your Hands”…about using gasoline. (Though he’s right in that y’all lazy bastards should be riding bicycles, anyway.)

        It’s like listening to High on Fire and not minding that Matt Pike takes David Icke seriously.

        • Valid point.

        • Dr_Fisting

          And don’t forget the time he broke up the band and moved to Iceland back in the ’90s, to avoid the coming apocalypse.

        • Grymm

          Or how he disappeared around the time of the second s/t to avoid touring with The Cult for whatever reason.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Maybe he thought The Cult were THE Cult.

        • herrschobel

          i wonder why that is crazy ? count every war / conflict linked to gasoline in one way or another….

    • Here’s Johnny

      Why? Truth hurt?

  • mtlman1990

    Thought I was on Rolling Stone for a second.

  • sir_c

    Is this contender for Surprising Surprise Of The Year?
    Sounds pretty stunning indeed; not yet sure of the 5.0 though, I just watched one clip. The vocalist’s sound does remind me a bit of Dave Brock, but that could be me.

  • michael rodrigues

    this is clearly a 3.5 at best.

  • Óðinn

    5/5, and it’s not Power Metal? What?! ;)

    I do respect Grymm’s opinion, so I’ll assume the score is legit. I’ll have to check this album out. Thanks Grymm.

  • Phantom667

    Weird, this album bored my tits off.

  • Monsterworks

    How does Pylon compare to Pandemonium? The latter is the only KJ album I know and thought it was fantastic when it came out in ’94 but never ventured further [for shame]. Educate me. A 5/5 is pretty hard to ignore so I was intending to hop on my bike and pick the LP up this afternoon.

    • Grymm

      Pylon > Pandemonium

      There’s absolutely no techno-beats on here or any ballads. This is just straight-up rage.

      • Monsterworks

        Choice.

    • Dr_Fisting

      This is significantly better than Pandemonium.

  • You wot m8?

    MY CAPS LOCK IS STUCK. PLEASE HELP.

  • Here’s Johnny

    KJ are one of the best bands ever, did my snobbery comments work and you actually spunked a 5/5 on a review? You saved up all that jizz for this one? I’m honoured.

    Can we expect elitist service as normal for the next few years before the next cumocalypse?

    • In order to balance the scale, every major release will get a 2.5 until 2017.

    • Grymm

      One of my upcoming reviews scored a 0.5. I do have to recharge, y’know.

  • 12tonehead

    I just spinned this one. Once. It was ainful to sit through til the end. Repetitive, formulaic, tired… Not a iota of edge or… what did you say? Anger? Nope. Not in my book. Was it ever boring. Only reason I sat through thise tedious chore was the fondness I have, had, for KJ. For the record, I was born when these guys released their stunning self titled in 1980. A truly unbelievable moment! So fresh and exciting. Then of course countless imitators jumped in. And KJ themselves never really recovered, as if those countless clones sucked the very blood out of them. Sad but true. We need to accept this. So, even out of respect, I would never ever give a 5/5 to this album which is OK at best (but, boring). I understand the urge to fight for a cause, and fighting for KJ is a valid cause, even if it’s a lost one. However, bestowing such praise on KJ’s latest work is doing them more harm than good.

  • beurbs

    Digging it so far, kind of a cross between A Perfect Circle and Celtic Frost. A nice evil massage for the ears.

  • J O

    Good lord, the juvenile, rebellious, conspiracy-theorizing in those lyrics in I Am The Virus made me seriously roll my eyes. Still a decent song though.