Killing Joke album cover
Killing Joke

Killing Joke

Malicious Damage

One of the strongest debut albums in a year and a wider UK scene known for them, 1980’s self-titled bow by Killing Joke remains a masterpiece of thrilling, aggressive music, not quite rock, postpunk, metal or even disco or synthpop but an astonishing melange of them all. Beginning with the crisp “Requiem,” Killing Joke captures the original quartet already burning with an energy and ease that makes them seem like veterans, with songs like the focused building blast of “The Wait” and the slippery funk of “Complications” just two of the standouts.

Ned Raggett

This is it for pleasure and power. Not sure how many debut albums have ever done as much as this one. In the course of forty minutes, these guys co-created LCD Soundsystem, Metallica, and a half-dozen genres nobody has ever expanded on. Dance music, dub, metal, noise, goth—literally everything good is in here. (If you really squint, you might see some jazz in the corners, possibly a blues change here or there.) It is genuinely shocking how much these guys had figured out in 1980. Jaz, Geordie, Youth, and Paul Ferguson: the Led Zeppelin of their moment, exactly ten years later. Synthesists of the highest order.

Sasha Frere-Jones

When it was released in 1980, Killing Joke’s eponymous debut was an anomaly on the musical landscape. The guitar sound was certainly heavy, even ponderous, but there was a tribal intensity to the rhythms that set them apart — and Jaz Coleman’s vocals and sung melodies at times bordered on the anthemic (as on “Requiem”), while the band also occasionally flirted with funk (as on the slightly Gang of Four-ish instrumental “Bloodsport”). This was the beginning of what would be one of the oddest and most interesting band careers of the 1980s — and beyond.

Rick Anderson

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