April 2024 - Feature Release - The Sphere Edition

First Post March 31, 2024 07:09 PM

So just like that we find that a new month is upon us which of course means that we’ll be nominating a brand new monthly feature release for each clan. This essentially means that we’re asking you to rate, review & discuss our chosen features for no other reason than because we enjoy the process & banter. We’re really looking forward to hearing your thoughts on our chosen releases so don’t be shy.

This month’s feature release for The Sphere has been nominated by myself. It's 1994's "Pandemonium" ninth album from London industrial metal/rock outfit Killing Joke. I've personally gotten a lot out of our previous Killing Joke feature releases (2003's self-titled & 2006's "Hosannas From the Basements of Hell" albums) so I thought it'd be worth extending my understanding of a band that I've always found to possess an undeniable class.


March 31, 2024 11:29 PM

Here's my review summary:

Before this band's switch into industrial rock/metal, Killing Joke started their 45-year tenure as an intense addition to the post-punk scene in the 80s. The band has pleased numerous fans of the scene with their earlier releases, despite a downward turn with the trance-pop Outside the Gate. But that's just part of their broad appeal, right from the start with their first single "Wardance". As much as their 80s era gained lots attention, so did their 2003 album which brought the band back from the shadows. Of course, we can't forget about the two albums in between, Pandemonium and Democracy, and the former album ended a 4-year gap since the previous album Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions, and it has a heavier mood. The members seem to add in elements of their side-projects, with the electronics that bassist Youth explored, and vocalist Jaz Coleman's trip to the Middle East (music, not the region, although he recorded his vocals in Egypt). So there's a more ambient/world tone added alongside their new industrial rock/metal direction. The percussion and violin are in perfect blend with the guitar chords played by Geordie Walker (RIP). Coleman's vocals encourage listeners to "Let it out, let it rise, let it-" (literally coughs and wheezes, f***ing amusing). Some of the earlier momentum is lost in the brooding second half, but the band manage to get back up in a couple songs there. After Pandemonium, the band made their next album Democracy and then go on a 7-year hiatus before their 2003 album that features the legendary Dave Grohl on drums. I wouldn't say Pandemonium is highly essential, nor is it a waste of time, but it's another chapter in the band's evolution, and their post-punk days are long gone....


April 02, 2024 07:48 PM

Here's my review:

I came to London post-punk legends Killing Time pretty late in the piece with my first encounter not coming until I checked out their fourteenth full-length album in 2012's solid industrial rock effort "MMXII". I probably didn't give it enough time or attention either to be honest as I kinda let it wash over me without really digging its teeth in & I'd move on fairly quickly. It wouldn't be until I nominated Killing Joke's classic 2003 self-titled album for feature release status in March 2021 that I'd discover what the band were really capable of with it's blend of industrial & alternative metal leaving me feeling both exhilerated & thoroughly rewarded. That experience would see me tempted into nominating 2006's highly regarded "Hosannas From the Basements of Hell" album as our March 2022 feature, another high-quality industrial metal effort that only strengthened Killing Joke's case for me & led to me thoroughly enjoying 1985's seminal post-punk/gothic rock fifth album "Night Time" during a period of goth rock exploration in early 2023. All of that exposure has now led us to this point in time when I find myself having made a third Killing Joke feature release nomination in order to see whether 1994's "Pandemonium", the band's first foray into metal music, stands up to the same standard set by its illustrious company.

"Pandemonium" is a record of enormous depth. It sees Killing Joke traversing a lot of musical ground across its ten tracks & 61-minute duration & one has to wonder whether the fact that the band was without a full-time drummer at the time played into the musical & creative decisions they made here. The production job isn't perfect with some of the faster songs lacking a little bit of definition between the instruments but there's a potent energy about everything they do with front man Jaz Coleman inevitably managing to maintain your attention & drive this material through his undeniable charisma.

"Pandemonium" kicks off with a trio of its heaviest & most aggressive songs & on first listen you could be forgiven for thinking that you were in for a total metalfest. But there's a whole bunch more to "Pandemonium" than that & by the end of the album you'll find that there's possibly more rock than there is metal. The four metal tunes are significant enough to warrant a dual tagging though with their high octane tempos & chunky riffage drawing me way back to those mid-90's goth club dance floors I used to frequent so regularly when I was still a part of the Sydney death metal scene. The opening title track is particularly effective & would have to be one of Killing Joke's finest moments. There's some interesting material to be found outside of the metal space too though with industrial goth rocker "Communion" being a real favourite of mine. "Pleasures of the Flesh" reiterates Killing Joke's goth rock potential while "Black Moon" harks back to the band's post-punk roots. Shoegaze number "Jana" is probably the most restrained inclusion & the album comes to a close following the lengthy alternative dance number "Mathematics of Chaos" whose pumping electronic beat will no doubt get your head bobbing but probably lacks a little in the focus & execution departments.

Despite the variation, there are no weak tracks included as such with every one of the ten pieces offering at least some level of entertainment. I don't think there are quite enough genuine classics here to see "Pandemonium" competing on the same level as Killing Joke's marvelous 2003 self-titled album but it's not far behind "Hosannas From The Basement of Hell" as far as rock-solid, professionally produced industrial rock & metal music goes. One gets the feeling that anything Jaz Coleman & co. touch will be successful as they just seem to possess that greater understanding of what makes visceral rock/metal music so appealing in the first place. I've thoroughly enjoyed my couple of days with "Pandemonium" & can definitely see myself returning to it at regular intervals in the future. Fans of Ministry & Nine Inch Nails should definitely check it out because there are some clear similarities on display at times.