Brighter Than a Thousand Suns was released in November 1986 by record label E.G. It was released on vinyl, cassette and CD, with the CD and cassette versions containing three bonus tracks. It reached number 54 in the UK Albums Chart.
The album was remastered and reissued in 2007 with Chris Kimsey's mixes in place of Julian Mendelsohn's, which appeared on the original release. The reissue also features extra bonus tracks, including "Ecstasy", a rare B-side from one version of the single "Adorations". The verse riff from "Ecstasy" was reused two years later on the track "Obsession" from Killing Joke's next album Outside the Gate.
Brighter Than a Thousand Suns has received a generally less-than-favourable response from critics.
In his retrospective review, Ned Raggett of AllMusic wrote "The unexpected success of Night Time and new commercial pressures clearly came to bear – Chris Kimsey's production, effective on that earlier album, here combined with Julian Mendelsohn's mixing to result in too often blanded-out album rock throwaways, perfect for blasting on highways and little else." Adrien Begrand of PopMatters wrote "Without question, 1986's Brighter Than a Thousand Suns marked a sharp decline in quality, many viewing it as a complete betrayal of Killing Joke's signature sound, but more than 20 years later, it's surprising how well parts of the album hold up."