The Hope of Doom
MMXII is oblivion music. In case you hadn’t already figured it out, the album’s title is the Roman equivalent of 2012—as in the beginning of the end of the Mayan calendar, the return of the plumed serpent god, Kukulkan. Armchair student of world events, ordained priest and all-round colorful character Jaz Coleman—Killing Joke’s wild, soothsaying frontman—basically has two words for you: Get ready. The seas will churn, bodies will burn and every freedom you ever enjoyed will be crushed by banker-funded supranational commandos. Your only consolation? The Apocalypse just got a kick-ass soundtrack—Jaz and company’s hard-charging fifteenth studio release.
You’ll hear a lot of locomotive drumming, industrial synth washes and clinched-mouth guitar work. Just take “Rapture,” the record’s second track. Its helicopter-whirring opening and “procession of death” backbeat leave Jaz no choice but to grunt through an open-wound verse, then—God Almighty!—he screams at the top of his lungs, “Raptu-u-u-u-u-re!” Just like that, with all the elongation of falling down a bottomless pit, hand-in-hand with the Antichrist. My suggestion is don’t turn it up too loud. Your ears may burn off. “Colony Collapse” lays out a mid-tempo chug à la Sabbath’s “Children of the Grave,” whereon Jaz barks an ill-fated vocal with gusto. “The future doesn’t need us,” he croaks, later pawing for Our Lady’s mercy, “Beloved Mother, intervene!”
Hopelessness is redoubled in the Rob Zombie grunge ’n’ roll of “Glitch,” where for frustration from an EMP-induced blackout, Jaz again has no choice but to hork the song’s title as if his lungs were being pulled from his body. “Gli-i-i-i-itch!” he yells, while guitars pummel like a Red Dawn-style takeover. The album’s rock-splittingest peak might just be “Fema Camp,” whose mid-tempo march does well in echoing America’s inevitable, naked trod to internment. The song’s chorus alone makes MMXII worth the price of admission, where Killing Joke’s frontman steels himself with a resistant falsetto: “We’re never going to end up in the furnace of a Fe! / Ma! / Camp!” Viva la resistance, Jaz.
Weaker cuts like the disco doom of “Trance” or the direful, Tool-like exercise of “Primobile,” as well as the compact New Wave of “In Cythera,” seem a little too danceable for the End of Days. True, with Killing Joke’s risk-taking angle and long roots in the UK music scene, it’s understandable why they’d dig into such styles. But the band sounds best guns-a-blazing—with little spittle strings dangling from its angry, bulging-eyed face. Thankfully, MMXII puts the hurt on us one last time in its goth–glam closer, “On All Hallow’s Eve,” solidifying the album as perhaps the ultimate bunker-busting set of—you guessed it!—2012.