If there’s anyone more legendary and groundbreaking than the UK’s Killing Joke, I’m afraid I haven’t met them yet. Killing Joke fans have come to expect a certain level and degree of quality when it comes to their brand of electronic and experimental rock music, and Pylon is a shining example of that very same quality. That being said, Pylon is not an easy album to explain.
Though there are indeed only ten songs here, they’ve been beefed up beyond recognition and sound for the most part, monstrous in their levels of design and texture. “Autonomous Zone” begins the disc with the band’s familiar electro-punk, yet I find myself heavily reminded of Fear Factory and understand where they’ve derived much of their cleaner sound from. The clean approach on this album is truly noteworthy, with frontman Jaz Coleman sounding in top form, almost robotic in some sections of the track. It also sounds like a violin is floating around in the background, to make what is a very interesting piece. “Dawn Of The Hive” comes in a bit punchier, as it embraces a more metallic sound. Echo effects help Coleman’s vocal approach to carry a great distance, while clean melodies and an obvious heavy metal backing make this one a definite electro-headbanger of sorts. It’s not something that you’d expect from anyone else but Killing Joke and remains as evidence of their greatness. “New Cold War” changes gears as a bit of a New Wave influence comes to play, with a disco-style drumming aesthetic. Coleman brings the chill and sometimes the fire with a harsher vocal approach on the cut. It’s definitely a rocker, but it’s a hard rocker and I think it still retains a bit of a punk vibe, which I’m definitely enjoying. “Euphoria” is also a bit different, as it feels like a melodic ballad of sorts, but it’s a got an amazing choral harmony that you’ll have to hear to believe. It definitely carries that New Wave vibe, proving that Killing Joke haven’t gone too far from their roots and they sound better than ever in this embracement. It’s the shortest song and would fit on the radio, but I certainly wouldn’t mind hearing it there. It’s passionate and my favorite track on the album. “New Jerusalem” sounds like an electronic funk piece, with definite guitar influence that brings in a fiery vibe.
Lyrically, Pylon seems to be an observation of many of the things that have gone wrong in our society. In particular, “War On Freedom” seems to cover most of these aspects perfectly within the music and really seems to explain what is going on, for those who are blissfully unaware, or who have chosen to become cattle. I know that I might sound blunt, harsh and possibly mad by these statements I’ve just made, but I feel they are for the most part bitter truths, and explain this record as being just that. It’s an extremely well-crafted album and will definitely sit as one of Killing Joke’s best to tie in with the massive The Death and Resurrection Show documentary film which will be appearing very soon. I would highly recommend fans who will undoubtedly purchase Pylon to go pick that DVD/Blu-Ray up as well. If you feel that you need a further track by track or are still on the fence about it, just remember that Killing Joke have always done their own thing, they’ve never played by trends and they’ve always delivered a strong album. The record definitely sounds like a mix between their early material and their later work, melding these magical properties together quite nicely. Pylon is most definitely a soundtrack to this confusing and delicate age in which we live, where man stands teetering above the brink of disaster. (Eric May)