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And now for something completely different....
on April 7, 2005
In the wake of the success of "Pandemonium", Killing Joke (still vocalist Jaz Coleman, guitarist Geordie, and bassist Youth) created something wholly different-- after the Middle Eastern-tinged industrial metal of their last album, the band produced an album in a unique style-- texture-oriented guitars (even acoustic guitars!), crisp bass, and varied vocals. The result has proven wildly unpopular with fans, but perhaps unfairly so. Its experimental, and it misses sometimes, but its certainly an interesting record.
Lyrically, this is a continuation of themes for the band, but rather than being about the impending collapse, it is about the collapse and the reaction. Its difficult I think to get into lyrically because it paints a picture of finding a new home, and lacks a lot of the lyrical venom that previous records had-- "Savage Freedom" being the exception. Its also got a bit of a personal spin to it, confessional lyrics ("Prozac People", "Absent Friends"), and its somewhat of a bitter record, belief that democracy has failed.
The use of acoustic guitars is most apparent on the title track and "Lanterns"-- the former is largely acoustic guitars mixed with heavy tribal bass and drums, the latter is unusual, even for Killing Joke-- another reviewer described it as anthemic, but as a criticism. I'd use the same term as a compliment-- the piece is brilliant, but unlike virtually all other Killing Joke material, its full of optimism. The most important part about these two though is that they're largely designed to evoke a different mood than the usual Killing Joke piece, this isn't about anger or sarcasm (or at least not the extent that other albums are), but remorse and moving on-- this theme comes back a number of times in the future as well on the record to great effect ("Pilgrimage", "Medicine Wheel", "Absent Friends"). Of course, this IS a Killing Joke record, and there's some good proto-industrial slabs here ("Savage Freedom", "Aeon").
My point is, this is a great record, its just really different from the rest of the band's catalog-- given the popularity of the last two records, its no suprise the reaction this one got. But its a unique and interesting record in its own right.