Killing Joke - Pylon
"Pylon" is the fifteenth studio album by industrial metal/rock band Killing Joke. Starting out as an industrial/post-punk hybrid in the late 70's, Killing Joke are known for being a huge influence on the industrial metal style that would form in the later 80's with such bands like Ministry and Godflesh. Killing Joke later went industrial metal themselves, with hardcore punk-twinged "Extremities, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions" and the pure industrial metal of "Pandemonium", the latter I consider to be a classic of industrial metal. So with over 30 years of music on their hands, how does their newest release fair?
Immediately you get assaulted with heavy crunching guitar and pulsing electronics with 'Autonomous Zone', and there's even some string arrangements that harken back to "Pandemonium". The second track, 'Dawn of the Hive', is a full-on dark and apocalyptic metal assault. The mix of pulsing and chattering electronics with an orchestral atmosphere really fit right at home with the menacing riffing and the steady beat of the drums. During the bridge, it almost wanders into thrash territory with it picking up speed and it also throws in some cool electronic effects. "Euphoria" changes the pace a bit, being a softer melancholy song, but Jaz Coleman gives an amazing vocal performance especially during the chorus. 'New Jerusalem' is one of my favorites from the album, which begins with an instantly toe-tapping drum beat with background crunching guitar. It soon gets heavier and very grandiose with string arrangements flowing right with the pulsing riffs and Coleman's brooding vocals. Speaking of the drums, the drum work is especially great beyond the catchy rhythm. 'Delete' is another one of my favorites, with a really addicting guitar riff and some excellent vocals.
The single released, 'I am the Virus', was definitely a worthy pick. It's a really addicting driving track with rolling drums and chaotic guitar, sounding like it would fit right at home with 2003's self-titled album. If you get the deluxe edition, you get a second disc with five bonus tracks. These bonus tracks are amazing, being right up there with the best songs of the regular album. 'Star Spangled', which is one of my favorite of these, has even more use of orchestra sounds, so much that I would call it symphonic industrial metal. 'Panopticon' is a dark nearly nine-minute long crushing dirge of a track, with the riffing reminding me of recent Alice in Chains at times. During the middles of both songs, there are some really dark guitar sounds, that I wish went on longer.
Killing Joke has always had a lot of political/social commentary in their lyrics, but the lyrics really shine in this album. 'New Jerusalem' has some great lyrics like: "Another knob got the top job, Selling out to corporations. Culture adult entertainment, Calibrated to dumb down.". Most of the lyrics are heavy on political commentary, and on the deluxe edition, the song 'Panopticon' has some great lyrics about the effects of social media and modern technology. Jaz Coleman has a very easily-recognizable and powerful voice, and he gives some really strong vocal performances on this album, especially in the song 'New Cold War'. He really roars in this track, especially when singing the title of the song.
Overall, I feel this is definitely up there with their best albums. I love and really like most of the songs, 'Big Buzz' being the only track I don't like much. Most of the songs stick in my head, and I highly recommenced this album to any fans of industrial rock and metal. Hope you found this review helpful.
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