Killing Joke - Hosannas From the Basements of Hell (2006)Release ID: 1634

Killing Joke - Hosannas From the Basements of Hell (2006) Cover
Shadowdoom9 (Andi) Shadowdoom9 (Andi) / July 09, 2024 / Comments 0 / 0

A punishing force in industrial rock/metal, Killing Joke kept their comeback going since their 2003 self-titled album and 25th anniversary DVD XXV Gathering with another album. The self-titled album was more metallic than their earlier works and had Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) as the drummer, stirring up brilliant energy. However, fans of the band's mid-80s material wanted more of what they used to have, and vocalist Jaz Coleman wasn't highly satisfied with how that album turned out. He was determined to find the right balance in their next offering...

Fast forward to the recording of Hosannas From the Basements of Hell. The sessions took place in Studio Faust, a studio in an ancient building in Prague, specifically in its deepest darkest basement, aptly named Hell. The band can battle Satan's demon horde, feast on their remains, and reign in the cavernous darkness. The album was recorded using vintage equipment from the time of the band's debut release Turn to Red, giving Hosannas the massive intensity Killing Joke fans want.

"Lift up your spirits!" Coleman shouts to begin "This Tribal Antidote", gathering around "celebrants in a state of merriment", i.e. fans of the band, as we hear the guitars slay. The title track shows Coleman taking on the perspective of one of those fans, even referencing this very band performing, "I walk down the stairs and Killing Joke waits for me". The music and lyrics sound f***ing supernatural in "Invocation". I definitely like the beat. You get to hear some of Paul Raven's last audible bass with the band before his passing the next year, RIP. There's some ominous cello to go along with the strings. It would've been cooler if the beat was more synchronized, but it's still OK.

"Implosion" has the relentless drum-work of Benny Calvert, alongside the guitar riffing of Geordie Walker (also RIP), the vocal melodies of Coleman, and the booming bass of Raven. The out-of-this-world "Majestic" has majestic guitar force. One of the two long epics, "Walking With Gods" has some riffing to remind some of the band's early 80s era.

The other epic, the nearly 10-minute "The Lightbringer" builds a bridge towards the mid-80s. That can be considered a highlight, though the ultimate highlight goes to this next track... "Judas Goat" leads you to the darkest depth of Hell with more technical drumming, guitar rhythms, and singing almost like a mantra. Then you're teleported back home in "Gratitude" as Coleman sincerely thanks you and the gatherers for that journey, "A toast for the man who loves every hour of every day."

Although Hosannas hasn't reached as much success as the 2003 self-titled album, it shows the band having more creative freedom. Almost every track ranges from 5 to 10 minutes, similarly to ZP Theart-era DragonForce albums. The band has tighter focus here than in previous albums. You know who to thank for this music....

Favorites: "Hosannas From the Basements of Hell", "Invocation", "Majestic", "The Lightbringer", "Judas Goat"

UnhinderedbyTalent UnhinderedbyTalent / March 27, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

Anyone who is a regular here at the Metal Academy will know that I am not always very positive about most of the content featured in The Sphere clan. Indeed, the very mention of Ministry makes me apoplectic, for example. All too often I find that the music of The Sphere is jumbled and done so just for the hell of it. My main problem with Ministry is that they seem to feel that the expression of their social, political, and cultural dissolution is fine to be exhibited with little care for structure beyond juvenile angst and reckless direction.

Thankfully not all music that dwells here in this industrial wasteland is terrible. Although arguably more than simple industrial in their content here, Killing Joke’s 2006 offering is an example of the rarefied atmosphere of genuinely captivating music within The Sphere. I recognise almost instantly this jumbled arrangement to all the tracks but here it feels more layered in approach as opposed to senseless piling of things on top of each other. The ability to combine many elements within a track (hell, even just a couple of different elements if they are disparate by way of comparison to each other) is not easy. Listening through to Invocation as I type this review just shows me what masters of this skill KJ are. The mechanical machinations of the track are balanced sublimely with those stabs of symphonia to create an imperious air to the proceedings here. That repetition is still there grinding away at the core of the track yet there is just enough variance in those symphonic elements and those tribal beats that roll through parts of the track to make this a real tour de force.

Switch to Walking with Gods just a few tracks later and we have a structure built on more industrial dance foundations that continually chops away at the listener. The invitation to “push yourself beyond the limits of human endurance” is made by a band who clearly practice what they preach with the relentless energy of this track. This does not always make for an easy listen with Hosanna from the Basements of Hell. The tracks are all varied enough in length, but it is the longer ones that really stand out for me, leaving the four- or five-minute ones a bit in their shade. That is not to say that the shorter tracks are bad, I just find I give them less attention overall.

The repetition is prevalent throughout and it serves as a constant tide almost to bring the music and me closer as the album goes along yet at the same time there are off-kilter rhythms (albeit very subtle), jangly alt-rock riffs and Jaz Coleman’s barking vocals that sound like a more accessible Lemmy to me in their style to keep me guessing where we are going next. Add to this odd sound effects that can sound like the squeaking wheels on a pram or deep and monstrous intakes of breath as well as the occasional maniacal laugh and this all adds up for one dizzying yet brilliant experience.

Whilst I get the sense that KJ do not really care if we like this eclectic “tension music” as I have heard the band describe their sound, they have put such clear effort into Hosanna from the Basements of Hell that it is hard for me not to be completely enamoured with it. It is an album that transposes the message of the artist with an ease that borders on being organic. It did not take many spins for me to feel in tune with this album and the ethos of Coleman and co soon bled through. As such it is one of a few records that I feel speaks to me and puts me at ease with its bonkers yet consistent methods of entertainment. In so many ways it is hard to describe yet in others it is so honest in its style it can appear quite basic at the same time. Extraordinary find for me.

Daniel Daniel / March 02, 2022 / Comments 0 / 0

I absolutely adored Killing Joke's self-titled 2003 album when we featured it in early 2021 so I was really looking forward to seeing what its follow-up had to offer (especially given that its arguably Killing Joke's most popular metal record) & it hasn't disappointed although it hasn't quite made the same impact as its predecessor. The production job is noticeably rougher &, even though this is apparently intentional given that the band felt their previous record was a little too clean, I do find the guitar tone to be a bit disappointing & the drums to sound a little flabby & thin at times. It took me a couple of listens to become accustomed to this but once I got my teeth into the song-writing it was pretty easy to overlook that flaw.

The first three tracks seem to be the clear fan favourites but interestingly (although hardly surprising) I find the less popular inclusions to be the real gems. If you only listened to those first three tracks though you'd likely be given the impression that "Hosannas From the Basements of Hell" isn't actually a metal record because opener "This Tribal Antidote" (the only track I struggle with here) sounds more like the band's early post-punk works than anything else while the title track & the heavily symphonic "Invocation" are much closer to industrial rock than they are to metal. But never fear because the album gets significantly heavier from that point on with an abrasive industrial metal sound taking over for the remainder of the tracklisting. If you're not a patient metalhead & you aren't into a more cerebral style of music then turn around & walk away now because Killing Joke's approach is very repetitive with these long tracks featuring relatively few changes. The aim is to get the listener into a consistent groove that builds in tension gradually over time. It either works for you or it doesn't & luckily for me I'm right onboard with music like this (perhaps helped by my techno days in this regard).

You can detect the post-punk component of Killing Joke's sound in the guitar arpeggios & tribal rhythms employed throughout while front man Jaz Coleman's grindy vocals & beautifully timed & placed keyboard lines are always very effective. You'll have to wait till right to the end of the album to hear the true potential in this material though with the last two songs ("Judas Goat" & "Gratititude") being utterly mind-blowing & the clear album highlights for me. I also love the lengthy "Walking With Gods" which sits in the middle of the tracklisting. It's hard to argue with the pure class that Killing Joke exude here & my hopes for another vitally important record have been richly rewarded, even if I do favour "Hosannas From the Basements of Hell"s wonderful elder sibling by a clear margin.

Chris Van Etten Chris Van Etten / July 27, 2020 / Comments 0 / 0

Killing Joke are one of my favorite bands. “Hosannas from the Basement of Hell” is their 12th studio LP and features the band over a quarter century into their career.  While Killing Joke started off as being comparable to a post punk band, they beefed up their sound on 1990’s “Extremeties, Dirt, and Various Repressed Emotions,” and have been on the heavier end of the spectrum ever since. They’re still absolutely the same band as on their first LP. However, Killing Joke’s music is based on repeating rhythms. They are not the type of band that has dozens of changes in a song. The approach taken by vocalist Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie hasn’t really changed, it’s just that the sonic foundation they play over has become more, well..., Metal. The point is, if you enjoy this record, you would probably enjoy the early records as well. It’s not the same contrast as dealing with early vs. later Ministry records. 

So onto this specific slab. “Hosannas” is not a bad place for the uninitiated to start delving into Killing Joke’s music. There are two caveats though: the songs are LONG, averaging at about 7 minutes. Again, this wouldn’t be excessive for a band that has several changes in their songs, but you pretty much know everything you’re getting into within the first 30 seconds. So technically, most of these tracks could be functional at half the length. That said, this is the sort of music you sink into. I like where these songs take me and I don’t mind staying there. The other is the track “Invocation”, which I HATED the first time I heard it. While it doesn’t bother me that much anymore, it’s not so much it grew on me as I just got used to it. It has a grandiose vibe similar to Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir, although a bit more Arabic sounding. There are a couple of similar tracks on their 1994 Pandemonium LP, and I like those, but this sounds like they were trying to create a movie soundtrack, and I just don’t like it. It probably has to with the guitar being too minimal and the vocals being too sparse, and those are the essential ingredients to Killing Joke’s sound. Plus the main part/riff just sucks. The reason I’m spending so much time talking about the one dud instead of the eight gems is because that song repelled me from this record for YEARS. So it was a pleasure to revisit this later and realize the rest of the album kills.

While it’s not my favorite KJ album (that honor goes to “Fire Dances”), Hosannas has all the elements that I love about the band. Geordie is a one of a kind guitarist: melodic and chiming but abrasive, armored in sharp distortion and reverb. His style isn’t far off from post-punk guitarists like Public Image Ltd’s Keith Levine, but it’s much more brutal. Jaz Coleman is a great frontman, a true weirdo. His voice ranges from smooth and spooky to gruff and aggressive. Despite the longer song lengths this one of the band’s faster records. Previously mentioned dud notwithstanding, this album charges from start to finish. The rhythms may be repetitive, but they are pummeling and awesome. My favorite track is probably “Implosion.” While the record warrants many words, I’m not sure what else to add. Just listen to the damn thing! And avoid the 1988 LP “Outside the Gate” unless and until you become a completist.


Release info

Release Site Rating

Ratings: 8 | Reviews: 4


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Ratings: 2 | Reviews: 2


Cover Site Rating

Ratings: 6


Cover Clan Rating

Ratings: 1

Hosannas From the Basements of Hell
The Sphere

Industrial Metal (conventional)

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