A band that bridged the gap between the 80s gothic rock sounds of The Cure or Siouxsie & The Banshees and the 90s industrial sounds of Nine Inch Nails or Ministry, Killing Joke have always held a fondness for the darker sides of music. Their previous album, 2012’s ‘MMXII’, was a concept album that dealt with themes of the apocalypse, and where do you go from the end of the world? There’s no obvious answer, but ‘Pylon’ answers it in typically dark Killing Joke fashion.
Challenging suggestions that old post-punk veterans don’t know their way around social media hype, release week has seen the band’s Facebook page gradually unveil new tracks from the album. But as you might expect from a band nowadays signed to Spinefarm Records, the metal label home to the likes of Rammstein, there’s nothing gradual about the way the album itself unfolds. Electronic effects pair up with vicious drum beats on opener ‘Autonomous Zone’ that make way for Jaz Coleman’s soaring yet still sinister vocals. It’s a largely heavier affair, be that on the up-tempo ‘Delete’ and ‘Dawn to the Hive’, to the slow but bouncy ‘New Jerusalem’. Most effective of all is the menacingly memorable ‘I am the Virus’, how you imagine ‘I am the Walrus’ might have sounded if Lennon & McCartney had been able to listen to White Zombie in 1967. Fans hoping for some music of their 80s ilk may be left a little disappointed and the album could have benefitted from a bit more of that sound, but fans of Killing Joke’s riffier side will be impressed by just how modern ‘Pylon’ sounds.
After almost 40 years of their career, it’s a difficult time in Killing Joke’s career to pick up on newer audiences. But for those who do want to give them a try, ‘Pylon’ is far from an album by a band on its last legs.