Lord of Chaos

rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Lord Of Chaos
02. Total
03. Big Buzz (Motorcade Mix)
04. Delete In Dub (Youth's Disco 45 Dystopian Dub)

KILLING JOKE has been dropping jaws and turning heads since its inception over 40 years ago in England. The act has been forward thinking and continually adventurous, never simmering to a point of normalcy as it has aged. They've pushed the envelope of a broad array of styles: post-punk, goth rock, industrial, industrial metal, new wave, synth pop and more. Now, the English band returns with its first release in seven years, "Lord of Chaos", an EP that features a couple of new tracks as well as the reworking of a pair of songs from its last album, 2015's "Pylon".

While charismatic frontman Jaz Coleman and guitarist Geordie Walker have essentially been the only ever-present members, KILLING JOKE's current configuration features all four original members — including drummer Big Paul Ferguson and bassist / programmer Youth — who have been reunited for nearly 15 years. The unit's stability contrasts its unpredictable musical explosiveness. But what is predictable is that KILLING JOKE never release music that isn't vibrant and exciting. Though the EP is a mere four songs, half of which are reimagined, there's an infectious quality to the songs that's so gripping that it is difficult to put this release down.

The latter half of the EP touches upon the relatively familiar, as they are newer takes on tracks from "Pylon". The band's longtime producer and engineer Tom Dalgety, alongside Nick Evans, remixed "Big Buzz", taking the emotive, shimmery post-punk / goth rock song deep into the realm of booming, popular electronic music. The source material's inclination toward melancholy remains, but the song that initially seemed more fit for solitude and introspection could now feasibly be dropped into the mix of a professional sporting event's intermission music. The almost JUDAS PRIEST"Turbo Lover"-era heavy metal surge of "Delete" takes an equally dramatic turn as KILLING JOKE's own Youth completely transforms the song with a nearly trip-inducing dub mix.

The first half of "Lord of Chaos" looks toward the future, however, supposedly hinting at KILLING JOKE's next studio full-length album, which is currently being worked on in Prague. The title track is a punchy hard rock song that's minimalistic and stripped down during its overtly heavy moments, layered and lush during its peak sections. "Total", meanwhile, employs a blend of haunting, soaring vocals amidst stuttered beats, moody heavy guitars and eerie synthesizers. If this half of the EP is indeed an indication of what's ahead, the quartet's next album is going to sound absolutely massive.

KILLING JOKE's body of work has been inspiring and groundbreaking, to say the least. They're worshipped by luminaries of various strands of underground music. Unfortunately they're barely known above surface in the mainstream, although they've influenced everyone from NINE INCH NAILS and MINISTRY to METALLICA, SOUNDGARDEN and NIRVANA. And their continued relevance exists within KILLING JOKE's own consistently great music, as "Lord of Chaos" proves to be one hell of an EP.

Author: Jay H. Gorania
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