KILLING JOKE The Singles Collection, 1979-2012 2xCD

killingjoke.singlesWould it be too much to presume at least a passing familiarity with band so as to forego an unnecessary and tedious recitation of their particular attributes? I think not. If you have any awareness of your culture at this point, you know who they are and what they do. So I won’t bother mentioning that at their best, and that’s much more often than not, their albums and performances are near-religious experiences, and that they essentially wrote the rulebook for post-punk metalloid squawkpummel. No, I’ll leave that entirely aside and address only the issue at hand.

That’s this album. The Singles Collection, 1979-2012. Thirty-two tracks smeared across two CDs, pretty much subsuming and building upon a prior Greatestish comp (the Laugh? I Nearly Bought One CD), piling on a load of newerish stuff that, if you are any sort of KJ disciple, you already own by virtue of dutifully accumulating each album in turn. Is the music good? Of course; it’s Killing Joke. But really, what’s the point? That’s what’s hard to figure. A gambit to lure new converts? A bid to wring a few more bucks out of the faithful?

Well, maybe a few in each regard. But as I see it, this double-disc set serves as a Cliff’s Notes chronicle of the jagged trajectory of a jagged band—sort of a nutshell summary of a remarkably consistent three-decade career. A latter-day excursion like “European Super State” shares an awful lot of common ground with earlier outings: Massive guitar riff, apocalyptic intoning, gut-jarring drum-pummel, albeit with higher production values. If you’re one of the faithful, you already know that—and don’t need this. But as “greatest” comps go, I’d personally find it hard to think of a greater one than this. After all, it’s fucking Killing Joke. [Spinefarm/Universal]

-David Livingstone

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