Released: July 17, 2003 (2003-07-17)
Released: October 6, 2003 (2003-10-06)
Killing Joke is the twelfth studio album by Killing Joke, released on July 28, 2003 by 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 drummer 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. Outburn Magazine gave it a perfect 100 score, calling it "the most vicious album of the year." 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." Justin Press of the Dallas Music Guide gave the album an 8 out of 10, saying: "Though not their best work (that still goes to Fire Dances), Killing Joke have provided an adrenaline shot to the nerve of thinking man's metal music." In 2005, Killing Joke was ranked number 355 in Rock Hard magazine's book of The 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums of All Time.
John Robb of Playlouder said the album "may well be the best rock record you'll hear all year." Alec A. Head of Satan Stole My Teddybear said, "One of the best albums of the year? Most definitely." David Jeffries of Allmusic said, "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."Rolling Stone gave the album a 2 out of 5, saying that "all the humorless gloom and doom feels oppressive after a while." Q Magazine also gave a score of 2 out of 5, claiming that the album was "patchy." The album holds a score of 79 out of 100 on Metacritic.