Killing Joke

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Killing Joke
Killing Joke - Ilosaarirock 2009.jpg
Killing Joke performing at the 2009 Ilosaarirock Festival. From left to right: Ferguson (background), Walker, Coleman, Youth
Background information
Origin Notting Hill, London, England
Years active
  • 1978–1996
  • 2002–present
Members Jaz Coleman
Geordie Walker
Paul Ferguson
Past members Paul Raven
Martin Atkins
Dave "Taif" Ball
Geoff Dugmore
Ben Calvert

Killing Joke are an English rock band formed in October 1978 in Notting Hill, London, England. The original line-up included Jaz Coleman (vocals, keyboards), Paul Ferguson (drums), Geordie Walker (guitar) and Youth (bass).

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Notting Hill Area of London, England

Notting Hill is an affluent district of West London, England, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Jaz Coleman singer, keyboardist, songwriter, conductor

Jeremy "Jaz" Coleman is an English musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer. He came to prominence in the early 1980s as the lead vocalist and occasional keyboardist of post-punk group Killing Joke.


Their first album, Killing Joke , was released in 1980. After the release of Revelations in 1982, bassist Youth was replaced by Paul Raven. The band achieved mainstream success in 1985 with both the album Night Time and the single "Love Like Blood".

<i>Killing Joke</i> (1980 album) 1980 studio album by Killing Joke

Killing Joke is the debut studio album by English rock band Killing Joke. It was released on 5 October 1980 by record label E.G. Records. It debuted at number 41 on the UK Albums Chart on 26 October 1980 and later peaked at number 39. The album has been called "an underground classic" for fans of "heavy music", and has influenced artists ranging from Nirvana to Marilyn Manson and Metallica.

Paul Vincent Raven was a bassist best known for his work in the post-punk group Killing Joke. He later played in the industrial music bands Prong, Ministry, and Zilch.

<i>Night Time</i> (album) album by Killing Joke

Night Time is the fifth studio album by English post-punk band Killing Joke. It was released in February 1985 through E.G. Records.

A key influence on industrial rock, [1] their early music was described by critics Stephen Thomas Erlewine and John Dougan [2] as "quasi-metal [...] dancing to a tune of doom and gloom", which gradually evolved over the years, incorporating elements of electronic music, synthpop and gothic rock, [3] [4] though always emphasising Coleman's "savagely strident vocals". [1] Killing Joke have influenced many later bands and artists, such as Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. Although Coleman and Walker have been the only constant members of the band, the current line-up features all four original members.

Industrial rock music genre

Industrial rock is an alternative rock genre that fuses industrial music and rock music.

Stephen Thomas Erlewine American music journalist

Stephen Thomas ('Tom') Erlewine is an American music critic and senior editor for the online music database AllMusic. He is the author of many artist biographies and record reviews for AllMusic, as well as a freelance writer, occasionally contributing liner notes.

Heavy metal is a genre of rock music that developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, largely in the United Kingdom. With roots in blues rock, psychedelic rock, and acid rock, the bands that created heavy metal developed a thick, massive sound, characterized by highly amplified distortion, extended guitar solos, emphatic beats, and overall loudness. The genre's lyrics and performance styles are sometimes associated with aggression and machismo.


Formative years (1978–1982)

Paul Ferguson was the drummer in the band of Mataya Clifford (a.k.a. Mat Stagger) when he met Jaz Coleman (from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) in Notting Hill, London. In October 1978, after Coleman was briefly the keyboard player in that band, he and Ferguson left to form Killing Joke. They placed an advertisement in Melody Maker , which attracted guitarist Geordie Walker and bassist Youth. [5] Coleman said their manifesto at the time was to "define the exquisite beauty of the atomic age in terms of style, sound and form". [6] Coleman gave an explanation concerning their name: "The killing joke is like when people watch something like Monty Python on the television and laugh, when really they're laughing at themselves. It's like a soldier in the first world war. He's in the trench, he knows his life is gone and that within the next ten minutes he's gonna be dead ... and then suddenly he realises that some cunt back in Westminster's got him sussed - 'What am I doing this for? I don't want to kill anyone, I'm just being controlled'." [7] The band played their debut gig on 4 August 1979 at Cheltenham Witcombe Lodge supporting the Ruts and the Selecter.

Paul Ferguson English drummer

Paul Ferguson is a rock drummer, best known for his work in the post-punk/industrial group Killing Joke and cult English punk band Pink Parts. Following a stint as the drummer with the London-based Matt Stagger Band in 1978, Ferguson became a founding member of Killing Joke and served as their drummer from 1979 to 1987. He was known as 'Big Paul Ferguson' during this period. Ferguson is known for his tribal drum style.

<i>Melody Maker</i> historical British weekly pop/rock music newspaper  (1926-2000)

Melody Maker was a British weekly music magazine, one of the world's earliest music weeklies, and—according to its publisher IPC Media—the earliest. It was founded in 1926, largely as a magazine for dance band musicians, by Leicester-born composer, publisher Lawrence Wright; the first editor was Edgar Jackson. In 2000 it was merged into "long-standing rival" New Musical Express.

Geordie Walker British musician

Kevin "Geordie" Walker is an English rock musician, best known as the guitarist from the post-punk group Killing Joke. His unorthodox style of electric guitar playing is widely acclaimed; Byrds-like chiming arpeggios of repetitive and somewhat somber melodies with a hypnotic long-sustain tone.

By September 1979, shortly before the release of their debut EP, Turn to Red , they started the Malicious Damage record label with graphic artist Mike Coles as a way to press and sell their music; [8] Island Records distributed the records (and released their debut single "Nervous System"), until Malicious Damage switched to E.G. Records with distribution through Polydor from 1980. [5] Killing Joke's early material "fused together elements of punk, funk and dub reggae". [9] Turn to Red came to the attention of legendary DJ John Peel, who was keen to champion the band's urgent new sound and gave them extensive airplay. An NME concert review said that "their sound is a bit like early [Siouxsie and the] Banshees without the thrilling, amoral imagination". [10] Concerning their live performances, it was said that "the only animation on stage is provided by Jaz who crouches behind his synthesizer, making forays like a Neanderthal man gripped by a gesturing, gibbering fury". [10] The songs on the 1980 "Wardance/Pssyche" single were described as "heavy dance music" by the press. [5] The band had changed their sound into something denser, more aggressive and more akin to heavy metal. Their debut album, Killing Joke , was released in October 1980; the band had considered calling it Tomorrow's World. [5] The press started to criticize them for the lack of new material appearing on the B-sides of singles, which often featured different mixes. [11] The group preferred to carry on working into the studio and released What's THIS For...! just eight months after Killing Joke, in June 1981. For this second album, they hired sound engineer Nick Launay, who had previously recorded with Public Image Ltd. [12] They toured extensively throughout the UK during this time, and both fans of post-punk and heavy metal took interest in Killing Joke via singles such as "Follow the Leaders". [6]

A record label, or record company, is a brand or trademark associated with the marketing of music recordings and music videos. Sometimes, a record label is also a publishing company that manages such brands and trademarks, coordinates the production, manufacture, distribution, marketing, promotion, and enforcement of copyright for sound recordings and music videos, while also conducting talent scouting and development of new artists, and maintaining contracts with recording artists and their managers. The term "record label" derives from the circular label in the center of a vinyl record which prominently displays the manufacturer's name, along with other information. Within the mainstream music industry, recording artists have traditionally been reliant upon record labels to broaden their consumer base, market their albums, and be both promoted and heard on music streaming services, radio, and television. Record labels also provide publicists, who assist performers in gaining positive media coverage, and arrange for their merchandise to be available via stores and other media outlets.

Island Records British international record label of Jamaican origin; imprint of Island Records Ltd.

Island Records is a record label owned by Universal Music Group. It was founded in 1959 by Chris Blackwell, Graeme Goodall, and Leslie Kong in Jamaica, and was eventually sold to PolyGram in 1989. Island and A&M Records, another label recently acquired by PolyGram, were both at the time the largest independent record labels in history, with Island in particular having exerted a major influence on the progressive music scene in the United Kingdom in the early 1970s.

Nervous System (song) 1979 song performed by Killing Joke

"Nervous System" is a song by English rock band Killing Joke. It was released in 1979 by record label Island as the band's debut single, shortly after the release of their Turn to Red/Almost Red EP.

Killing Joke also became notorious largely due to the controversies that arose from their imagery. The images that appeared on their records and stage set were often bizarre and potentially shocking and inflammatory. Critics noted the band's black humour and the use of musical and visual shock tactics to create a reaction. [11] The "Wardance" sleeve had already depicted Fred Astaire dancing in a war field. [13] One promotional poster featured an original photo, erroneously believed to be of Pope Pius XI. The picture was of German abbot Alban Schachleiter walking among rows of Nazi soldiers offering Hitler salutes and appearing to return the salute; it was later used for the cover of the band's compilation album Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! .

Fred Astaire American dancer, singer, actor, choreographer and television presenter

Fred Astaire was an American dancer, singer, actor, choreographer and television presenter. He is widely regarded as the most influential dancer in the history of film.

Pope Pius XI 20th-century Catholic pope

Pope Pius XI, born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was head of the Catholic Church from 6 February 1922 to his death in 1939. He was the first sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929. He took as his papal motto, "Pax Christi in Regno Christi," translated "The Peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ."

Alban Schachleiter was a Roman Catholic Benedictine monk and musicologist. He was closely associated with the Nazis, and with Adolf Hitler personally.

Revelations was recorded in 1982 in Germany near Cologne with producer Conny Plank, who had previously worked for Neu! and Kraftwerk. [14] The album was supported by a pair of performances on BBC Radio's "The John Peel Show" and a slot on UK TV show Top of the Pops for "Empire Song". It was the first time that one of their albums had entered the top 20 of the UK Albums Chart: Revelations peaked at No. 12 a few weeks after its release. [15] Members of the band, especially Coleman, had become immersed in the occult, particularly the works of occultist Aleister Crowley. In February of that year, Coleman, with Walker following shortly after, moved to Iceland to survive the Apocalypse, which Coleman predicted was coming soon. While in Iceland, Coleman and Walker worked with musicians from the band Þeyr in the project Niceland. Youth, who had stayed in England, left the band after a few months. [16] He then began the band Brilliant with Ferguson, but the latter defected and travelled to Iceland to rejoin Killing Joke with new bassist Paul Raven.

The new Killing Joke line-up soon recorded again with Plank, yielding the single "Birds of a Feather" and a six-track 10" EP Ha! , recorded live at Larry's Hideaway in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in August.

Commercial sound (1983–1988)

The first album with Raven, 1983's Fire Dances , had a slightly more melodic, accessible and celebratory sound, albeit without compromising any of the band's key elements, as prefaced by the "Birds of a Feather" single. The change was most noticeable on the title track and sole single, "Let's All Go (To the Fire Dances)" (June 1983), and was taken even further on the subsequent non-album single "Me or You?", released in October. The former was also the first Killing Joke single to be promoted with a music video. [17]

The following year brought more changes with the arrival of producer Chris Kimsey, who had previously worked with the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. The first fruits were the singles "Eighties" (April 1984) and "A New Day" (July 1984), the former once again promoted with a video. [6] They achieved mainstream success in January 1985 with the single "Love Like Blood", which covered all the bases from goth and new wave to pop and dance rock; [18] it peaked at No. 16 in the UK charts. [19] In Europe, it reached the No. 5 position in the Netherlands and No. 8 in Belgium. [20] The song, and the earlier single "Eighties", were both included on their fifth album, Night Time , released later that year. Retrospectively reviewed as "relentlessly catchy" and "anthemic", [18] the album emphasized Coleman's increasingly melodic vocals [21] and reached No. 11 in the UK album chart, their highest position to date. [15] Night Time also became an international success, staying in the Dutch charts for nine weeks, reaching the top 10, and peaking at No. 8 in New Zealand during a 14 week stay. [22] The band, still on the E.G. label, then quit Polydor and signed a contract with Virgin Records.

The "streamlined and synth-heavy" music on the "flawed but likeable" Brighter than a Thousand Suns (1986), [18] also produced by Kimsey, led to controversy. It was retrospectively compared it to the commercial pop work of Simple Minds, [23] while many fans viewed it at the time as a "complete betrayal of Killing Joke's signature sound". [18] The record was a commercial failure compared to the previous effort, failing to reach the top 50 in the UK charts. [19] However, two singles were released from the album - "Adorations" (which fractionally missed the UK Top 40) and "Sanity" - and the band continued touring successfully until the end of the year. [6]

In 1987, the band started to work on a new album, which was presented by Coleman and Walker as a studio project to the rest of the band. Raven took part in the sessions but was unsatisfied by the result, finally asking for his name to be removed from the album credits. [24] Ferguson recorded drums in Berlin, but according to Coleman, was fired because he wasn't able to manage the precise timings, a version of events that Raven later rejected. The latter stated: "I know Paul and when he does something he does it properly. If it wasn't right he would have stayed there 'til it was". [24] Tensions ultimately led to both musicians being dismissed from the band. Session player Jimmy Copley was then brought in to provide the drumming on the songs, along with percussion player Jeff Scantlebury.

The resulting album, Outside the Gate (1988), was Killing Joke's most controversial album, due to its synth-led sonics and disagreement over the quality of the material. [25] Sounds said of the album: "It's a stodgy, inconclusive LP that fails in all but the most basic of senses to achieve its end, leaving us feeling soured and unimpressed". [26] NME shared the same point of view and depicted it as "a private breakfast of ideas, depicting poor old Jaz wading through quicksand with his jeans rolled down yet again. Worse ... he seems to be wandering off in exactly the same direction". [27] Two singles, "America" and "My Love of This Land", were released from the album but did little to improve its fortunes. The video for the former song featured Coleman and Walker with Copley and session bassist Jerome Rimson, who never actually recorded with the band. [28] Virgin dropped the group two months after the release of the album; it also marked the end of their collaboration with the E.G. label.

On 19 September 1987, Coleman delivered a lecture at London's Courtauld Institute, outlining the thinking behind the then-unreleased Outside the Gate album, touching on numerology and the occult. Walker and Scantlebury provided a minimal musical backing at the event. A recording of the lecture was eventually released under the title The Courtauld Talks on Invisible Records in 1989.

Revised line-up (1989–1991)

Towards the end of 1988, Coleman and Walker looked for full-time bass players and drummers. First on board was drummer Martin Atkins, who had gained notability in Public Image Ltd. A suitable bass player proved more difficult. Former Smiths member Andy Rourke was hired, then dismissed after only three days. Eventually the band settled on Welsh bass player Dave "Taif" Ball, and played their first gigs in almost two years in December 1988. [29] Touring continued across the UK, Europe and the US until August 1989, when the band took a break to record new material in Germany and allow Coleman time to record 1991's Songs from the Victorious City with Anne Dudley of Art of Noise.

For reasons which remain unclear, the German Killing Joke sessions were shelved and bass player Taif left the band, replaced by prior member Raven. The revised line-up began recording again, this time in London, and the result was Killing Joke's eighth album, Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions , released on the German Noise International label in 1990. It marked a return to a heavier sound, while incorporating the "accessible, calmer side" of the previous two albums as well. [30] [31] "Money Is Not Our God" was the lead single. Once again, the band toured Europe and North America, but by the middle of 1991, this new line-up had imploded. Coleman emigrated to New Zealand to live on a remote Pacific island, and Killing Joke entered a hiatus period.

Atkins continued with Walker, Raven and the band's live keyboard player, John Bechdel, as the short-lived Murder, Inc., recruiting Scottish vocalist Chris Connelly and reuniting with Ferguson as second drummer.

Return of Youth (1992–1996)

Youth and Coleman (1994) Killing Joke-1994-Nottingham.jpg
Youth and Coleman (1994)

A Killing Joke anthology, Laugh? I Nearly Bought One!, was released in 1992; during its production, Walker became reacquainted with Youth, who suggested that they reform the band with himself back on bass. That same year, two singles (on cassette and CD) appeared featuring the early songs "Change" and "Wardance" in several new versions remixed by Youth, who was by then a very successful producer. [32]

Coleman produced the 1993 debut album Churn by the New Zealand band Shihad, and Shihad drummer Tom Larkin played on some of the songs on the next Killing Joke album, Pandemonium . Relations later soured between Coleman and Shihad due to a dispute over Coleman's production fee for Churn.

The reactivated Killing Joke released two strong and well-received albums on Youth's Butterfly Recordings label, Pandemonium and Democracy , which saw the band shifting to a more varied approach and employing young talent like Waxworth Industries for 12-inch remixes. The heavy, "trance-inducing" Pandemonium (1994) featured some of the Egyptian musicians that Coleman had previously worked with on Songs from the Victorious City, including percussionist Hossam Ramzy and violinist Aboud Abdel Al. [33] [34] , and earned Killing Joke a memorable Top of the Pops appearance for the single "Millennium", which was a UK Top 40 hit (the album itself made the Top 20). The title track was also released as a single and made the UK Top 30. In 1995, the band recorded the song "Hollywood Babylon" for the soundtrack of Paul Verhoeven's movie Showgirls .

Democracy (1996) was more introspective and optimistic, introducing acoustic guitar into the mix, and garnered mixed reviews ranging from "watered down" to "Killing Joke's best album in 11 years". [35] [36] The title track was again released as a single and made the UK Top 40. Much of Pandemonium and all of Democracy featured session drummer Geoff Dugmore. He also played live with the band throughout this era. Nick Holywell-Walker joined the band on keyboards and programming for 11 years from 1994 to 2005, notably on Democracy and XXV Gathering. Youth bowed out of live performance early in the Democracy tour and was replaced by Troy Gregory, previously of Prong. [6]

After the Democracy tour, the band went on an extended hiatus. Coleman and Youth produced a string of well-received orchestral rock albums based on the music of classic rock artists such as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the Doors. Coleman became Composer in Residence for New Zealand and Czech symphony orchestras, [37] and made his acting debut with the main role in the film Rok ďábla (Year of the Devil) by Czech filmmaker Petr Zelenka.

Reformation and the death of Raven (2002–2007)

In 2002, Coleman, Walker and Youth recorded their second self-titled album with special guest Dave Grohl on drums. Produced by Andy Gill and released to much acclaim in 2003, it was heralded as a powerful addition to their earlier classics. [38] [39] In 2003, the band played at the biggest open air festival in Europe - Przystanek Woodstock [40] in Poland. The War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq were cited as major factors in their reforming, reflected in the lyrical content of much of the album, based on themes of war, government control and Armageddon. The album, which fell just short of the UK Top 40 and spawned two singles, "Loose Cannon" (a UK Top 25 hit) and "Seeing Red". The songs were all credited to Coleman/Walker/Youth/Gill, although Raven's name is also on the list of musicians on the liner notes, marking his return to the band after more than a decade. The album was accompanied by a tour of the United States, Europe and Australia in 2003-2004, with ex-Prong drummer Ted Parsons on board.

In February 2005, now with young drummer Ben Calvert (Twin Zero, Sack Trick), Killing Joke played two consecutive shows at London's Shepherds Bush Empire to commemorate their 25th anniversary. DVD and CD recordings from these concerts were released in the fall of the same year as XXV Gathering: The Band that Preys Together Stays Together. In June, remastered and expanded editions of Pandemonium and Democracy, were released by Cooking Vinyl. These were followed in July by remasters of their first four albums (Killing Joke to Ha!) on EMI, who by then owned the E.G. Records catalogue. The second batch of EMI remasters would not appear until January 2008. That year, Reza Udhin joined the band on keyboards when they supported Mötley Crüe's British tour; they then began work on their next album in Prague. Killing Joke's contribution to the world of rock was recognised when they were awarded the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the 2005 Kerrang Awards. [41] The band recorded the new album in "Hell", the basement rehearsal space of Studio Faust Records in Prague, opting for simplicity and raw energy through the use of live takes with a minimum of overdubs. [42] The result was Hosannas from the Basements of Hell , released in April 2006, which made the UK Top 75.

During a European tour in April 2006, Raven abruptly departed after a few dates to tour with Ministry, and was temporarily replaced by Kneill Brown. In October, it was announced that Coleman had been chosen as Composer in Residence for the European Union, to be commissioned to write music for special occasions. [37]

Early in 2007, Killing Joke released three archival collections. The first, Inside Extremities, was a double album of material taken from the band's preparations for the Extremities album, including rehearsals, rare mixes, previously unheard track "The Fanatic" and a full live show from the Extremities tour. [43] This was followed by two volumes of Bootleg Vinyl Archive, each consisting of a 3-CD box set of live bootleg recordings originally released on vinyl in the 1980s, plus the Astoria gig from the Pandemonium tour (which was voted one of the greatest gigs of all time by Kerrang). [44] The 1990 album Extremities, Dirt & Various Repressed Emotions, which had long been out of print, was reissued in remastered form.

On 20 October, Raven died of heart failure prior to a recording session in Geneva, Switzerland. [45] In his honour, Coleman composed the track "The Raven King", which appeared on the next album. [46] In 2008, the second batch of albums, from Fire Dances to Outside the Gate, was reissued in remastered form with bonus tracks.

Reunion of the original line-up (2008–present)

Killing Joke plays live in Paris during the 2008 tour (Le Trabendo, 27 September 2008). Killing joke paris 01.jpg
Killing Joke plays live in Paris during the 2008 tour (Le Trabendo, 27 September 2008).

After the death of Raven, the original line-up of Coleman, Youth, Walker and Ferguson reunited. Coleman told Terrorizer magazine how the return of Ferguson came up after 20 years of absence:

"Everything came together when we all met at...Raven's funeral. It was funny the unifying effect it had on all of us. It made us realise our mortality and how important Killing Joke is to all of us." [47]

They assembled in Granada, Spain, to prepare a world tour consisting of two nights in various capital cities of the world, playing a programme of four complete albums. Recordings of the rehearsals were later released as Duende - The Spanish Sessions. The first night was dedicated to their first two albums, Killing Joke and What's THIS For...!, while the second night featured large parts of Pandemonium plus some early Island singles. The world tour began in September in Tokyo and concluded in Chicago in October. [48]

An album of radio session recordings, The Peel Sessions 1979–1981, was released in September 2008. This was the second time all 17 tracks were released in their live session form.

The band then appeared at several festivals, including All Tomorrow's Parties, Sonisphere Festival, [49] and Rebellion Festival, headlining the latter. [50] They also performed in the Big Top Tent at the 2009 Isle Of Wight Festival after being hand-picked by Tim Burgess, frontman for the Charlatans. [51]

During October and November 2009, they recorded the album Absolute Dissent (2010), marking the band's 30th anniversary. [52] It was preceded by the In Excelsis EP in June 2010. In November, the band received the "Innovator Award" at the 2010 Classic Rock Roll of Honour; the award was presented to Killing Joke by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, who stated, "I go back a long way with Jaz Coleman and the band. I used to go and see the band, and it was a band that really impressed me because Geordie's guitar sound was just really, really strong. And they were really tribal, the band, and it was really intense. It was just really good to hear something like that during the 80s, which sort of caved in a bit with haircuts and synthesizers". [53] The band were also honoured by Metal Hammer at their annual awards, receiving the Album of the Year award for Absolute Dissent. [54]

In 2012, the group released MMXII . It reached No. 44 upon its first week of release, the band's highest UK chart placement since their eponymous 2003 album of 2003, [19] as well as charting across Europe.

In April 2015, two limited-edition Record Store Day double LPs, Live at the Hammersmith Apollo 16.10.2010 Volume 1 and Live at the Hammersmith Apollo 16.10.2010 Volume 2, were issued for independent record stores in the UK.

The band released their 15th studio album, Pylon , in October 2015. The deluxe edition contained five additional tracks. A nine-date British tour followed to promote the record. [55] Pylon entered the UK albums chart at No. 16, becoming the band's first UK Top 20 album since 1994. [19] In November 2016, the band played at the Brixton Academy in London, before embarking on a European tour, their longest to date. In 2018, the band did a worldwide tour to celebrate their 40th year anniversary. [56]


The band called their sound "tension music". [57] Co-founder Ferguson described it as "the sound of the earth vomiting. I’m never quite sure whether to be offended by the question of 'are we punk' or not, because, I loved punk music, but we weren't. And I think our influences were beyond punk. Obviously before punk, there was Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and there was Yes even and King Crimson, and those had all influenced me as a player, and the other guys would say other things, but I'm sure they were all part of their history as well". [58]

Coleman's "menacing" [57] vocal style and "terrifying growl" have been compared to Motörhead's Lemmy. [59] In the first part of their career, Coleman also played synth while singing, adding electronic atonal sounds to create a disturbing atmosphere. [57]

Walker's guitar style is metallic and cold. [59] According to critic Simon Reynolds, Walker took Keith Levene's guitar sound from PiL to another, almost inhuman and extreme level. [57] Ferguson's tribal drum style has been compared to early Siouxsie and the Banshees. [60] Coleman had stated in early 1980 that Ferguson listened to the Banshees. [61]

In his review of What's THIS For...! critic Kris Needs commented on the band's song structures, noting that "the choruses consist mainly of the song titles repeated". [62]

Legacy and influence

Killing Joke have inspired artists of different genres. They have been namechecked by several heavy rock bands such as Metallica and Soundgarden. Metallica covered "The Wait" and James Hetfield picked Coleman as one of his favourite singers. [63] Soundgarden cited them as one of their main influences when they started playing. [64] [65] Helmet covered "Primitive" in 1993. Faith No More stated that all of their members liked the group, qualifying them as a "great band". [66] Walker's style inspired Kurt Cobain's work with Nirvana, according to Bill Janovitz of AllMusic, with the use of a metallic sound mixed with a shimmering chorused effect. [59] Foo Fighters, Nirvana drummer Grohl's subsequent band, covered "Requiem" in 1997. Metal band Fear Factory covered "Millenium" in 2005. Jane's Addiction said that the group was one of their influences; singer Perry Farrell was inspired by the percussive and tribal aspect of their music. [67]

The band have inspired many industrial bands, including Nine Inch Nails and Ministry. They have been cited by Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails's leader, who mentioned his interest in their early material, [68] and said that he studied their music. [69] Al Jourgensen of Ministry described himself as a "big fan" of the group. [70] Marilyn Manson listened to them during his formative years. [71] Godflesh frontman Justin Broadrick was particularly influenced by their early releases containing dub versions. [72]

The group has also been cited by alternative music acts such as My Bloody Valentine and LCD Soundsystem. Shoegazing guitarist and composer Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine mentioned the band and specifically praised Walker's touch, which he described as "this effortless playing producing a monstruous sound". [73] In 2002, James Murphy of dance-punk band LCD Soundsystem sampled the music of "Change" on his debut single, "Losing My Edge".


Killing Joke were the subject of a feature-length documentary film, The Death and Resurrection Show (2013), by Shaun Pettigrew. [74] The film was shown in various festivals between 2013 and 2014. Co-produced by Coleman, it combined archive footage of Killing Joke over the previous decades with tour footage, recording sessions and interviews with subjects including the members of the band, Page, Grohl, Peter Hook and Alex Paterson. The Death and Resurrection Show was broadcast on Sundance TV and was then released on DVD via the film's website in 2017. [75] Uncut rated it 9 out of 10, saying "Shaun Pettigrew's film mixes outlandish anecdotes, arcane philosophy and blistering music". [76]

Side projects


Current members

Former members

Additional musicians


Killing Joke


Studio albums

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Murder, Inc. was an industrial music supergroup formed in 1991, featuring vocalist Chris Connelly, Killing Joke members Geordie Walker, Paul Raven, "Big Paul" Ferguson, John Bechdel, and former Public Image Ltd drummer Martin Atkins.

<i>Pandemonium</i> (Killing Joke album) 1994 studio album by Killing Joke

Pandemonium is the ninth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke, released on 2 August 1994 by record label Butterfly. This album marked Killing Joke's return after a four-year-long hiatus, the longest the band had taken since it was initially founded. This album also featured the return of founding member Youth, who replaced Paul Raven on bass.

<i>Revelations</i> (Killing Joke album) 1982 studio album by Killing Joke

Revelations is the third studio album by English rock band Killing Joke, released in July 1982 by record label E.G.

<i>Fire Dances</i> 1983 studio album by Killing Joke

Fire Dances is the fourth studio album by English post-punk band Killing Joke, recorded from February to March 1983 and released in July 1983 by record label E.G.

<i>Brighter Than a Thousand Suns</i> (album) 1986 studio album by Killing Joke

Brighter Than a Thousand Suns is the sixth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke.

<i>Outside the Gate</i> 1988 studio album by Killing Joke

Outside the Gate is the seventh album by English rock band Killing Joke. It was recorded between July and August 1987 and released the following year in June 1988.

<i>Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions</i> 1990 studio album by Killing Joke

Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions is the eighth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke, recorded in August 1990 and released in November 1990 by record label Noise. This is the only Killing Joke album to feature drummer Martin Atkins.

<i>Democracy</i> (album) 1996 studio album by Killing Joke

Democracy is the tenth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke. It was released on 1 April 1996 by record label Big Life.

<i>Laugh? I Nearly Bought One!</i> 1992 compilation album by Killing Joke

Laugh? I Nearly Bought One! is a compilation album by English rock band Killing Joke, released in 1992 by record label Caroline.

<i>Ha</i> (Killing Joke album) 1982 live album by Killing Joke

"Ha" or "Ha": Killing Joke Live is the first commercially distributed live recording by English rock band Killing Joke. It was recorded at Larry's Hideaway in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 9 and 10 August 1982, and released on 4 November by record label Virgin.

Requiem (Killing Joke song) single by Killing Joke

"Requiem" is a song by English rock band Killing Joke. It was released in September 1980 by E.G. Records as the second single from their eponymous debut studio album. The song peaked at number 43 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.

<i>Turn to Red/Almost Red</i> extended play by Killing Joke

Turn to Red is an EP and the debut release by English rock band Killing Joke, released on 26 October 1979 by record label Malicious Damage. It was re-released as Almost Red on 14 December by record label Island.

Empire Song 1982 song performed by Killing Joke

Empire Song is a song by English rock band Killing Joke. It was released in 1982 by record label E.G. as the first single from their third studio album, Revelations. It reached No. 43 in the UK Singles Chart that same month. Polydor also released "Empire Song" as a single in Ireland.

<i>Absolute Dissent</i> 2010 studio album by Killing Joke

Absolute Dissent is the thirteenth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke. It was released on 27 September 2010 by record labels Spinefarm and Universal.

<i>MMXII</i> (album) 2012 studio album by Killing Joke

MMXII is the fourteenth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke, released on 2 April 2012 by record label Spinefarm and distributed worldwide by Universal Music Group.

<i>Pylon</i> (album) 2015 studio album by Killing Joke

Pylon is the fifteenth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke, released on 23 October 2015 by record label Spinefarm and distributed worldwide by Universal Music Group. The album was recorded between the UK and the Czech Republic, and co-produced by the band and Tom Dalgety.


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Further reading