1983, Music

Fire Dances (1983) by Killing Joke

I have heard Killing Joke’s debut a bunch of times but somehow skipped over their second and third albums. I guess they almost broke up, lost a member and then recorded this.

Someone said this record is more “tribal” than their past records, and that descriptor fits if you think pounding drums equals “tribal.” The drums are mixed pretty high in the mix and, moreover, they are often pretty simple and pummeling. (Rather, it’s not that the drums are simple, it’s that the bass drum and some of the toms are so much higher in the mix than the rest of the kit.)

Unfortunately this mix seems to be a theme throughout the record and one thing that is perhaps unfortunate about this record is how similar everything sounds. Yes, Killing Joke has always been like that – you need to listen a bunch of times to notice differences from track to track – but here it seems taken to an extreme; the guitar and parts of the drum kit high up in the mix, Coleman’s voice and the bass lower down, the rest of the kit at the bottom.

This is a long way of saying I’m not sure the material is strong enough to match the obsession with the aesthetic. It feels that the aesthetic is the thing here – as it often is with this band – and nobody was too worried about writing strong enough riffs or melodies.

It’s still moderately interesting, but it’s too samey for me.

6/10

All tracks written by Killing Joke (Jaz Coleman, Paul Ferguson, Paul Raven and Geordie Walker).

  1. “The Gathering” 3:11
  2. “Fun and Games” 4:05
  3. “Rejuvenation” 4:01
  4. “Frenzy” 3:46
  5. “Harlequin” 3:57
  6. “Feast of Blaze” 3:35
  7. “Song and Dance” 5:13
  8. “Dominator” 4:28
  9. “Let’s All Go (To the Fire Dances)” 3:19
  10. “Lust Almighty” 3:50
  • Jaz Coleman – vocals, synthesizer, production
  • Kevin “Geordie” Walker – guitar, production
  • Paul Raven – bass guitar, production
  • Paul Ferguson – drums, vocals, production

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