Released: 17 July 2003 (2003-07-17)
Released: 6 October 2003 (2003-10-06)
Killing Joke is the twelfth studio album by English rock band Killing Joke, released on 28 July 2003 by record label Zuma Recordings. Recording for the album in 2002 marked the end of a six-year hiatus that began in 1996 and it was Killing Joke's first studio album in seven years. Produced by Andy Gill of Gang of Four, the album featured long-time Killing Joke fan Dave Grohl on drums. This is also Killing Joke's second self-titled album, as an effect of the hiatus.
Vocalist Jaz Coleman and Dave Grohl originally intended to title the album Axis of Evil, in reference to the political lyrical themes: "It's the beginning of the American Empire. They're taking over the world. That's what's happening, and here we are at the heart of the fucking enemy. I never thought I'd see the day."The Death & Resurrection Show, the title of the opening song on the album, was also a working title.
Bassist Paul Raven had recently met Grohl, who expressed an interest in working with the band. According to Coleman, "The original idea was to have three of our favorite drummers play on the album, Dave [Grohl] being one of them. We also wanted John [Dolmayan] from System of a Down and Danny [Carey] from Tool. But when Dave heard the songs, he said, 'I want the whole thing'". Dolmayan worked with the band during early recording sessions, but the drumming on the final album is entirely by Grohl. Grohl declined to be paid for his work.
Bass guitar is played by original member Youth, guitarist Geordie Walker, and other longtime bassist Paul Raven, who performed on the tour supporting the album. Walker claims to have played "half the bass on the record. "
During the recording of the song "Asteroid", Dave Grohl commented on the album:
It's the first record I've ever done where the drums come last. Usually drums are first. It's nice, though, because once you put the drums down and all the percussion is done and everything, it's done. You have a finished song. And also, all the programming and stuff that Andy is doing, the rhythms that they came up with are great. It's not conventional "rock drumming", it's not like conventional rock rhythms. It's challenging. Everything is a challenge.
Critical reaction to Killing Joke has been mostly positive. It currently holds a 79/100 approval rating on review aggregator website Metacritic, based on fifteen reviews.
Billboard awarded it an 80 out of 100, noting that "Grohl's furious playing fits perfectly with the wall of rage erected by Joke vocalist Jaz Coleman and fellow founders Geordie Walker on guitar and Youth on bass". John Robb of Playlouder wrote that the album "may well be the best rock record you'll hear all year". David Jeffries of AllMusic wrote "While Killing Joke's discography has more than its fair share of awkward and overly ambitious albums, they've once again returned to the fury and focus of their classics".
A negative review came from Rolling Stone, who awarded the album 2 stars out of 5 and wrote that "all the humorless gloom and doom feels oppressive after a while".Q also gave a score of 2 out of 5, claiming that the album was "patchy".
In 2005, Killing Joke was ranked number 355 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.