Killing Joke (1980 album)

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Killing Joke
Killing Joke album.jpg
Studio album by
Released5 October 1980
RecordedAugust 1980
StudioMarquee Studios, London
ProducerKilling Joke
Killing Joke chronology
Turn to Red/Almost Red
Killing Joke
What's THIS For...!
Singles from Killing Joke
  1. "Wardance"
    Released: February 1980
  2. "Change"
    Released: 17 March 1980
  3. "Requiem"
    Released: September 1980

Killing Joke is the debut studio album by English post-punk band Killing Joke, released on 5 October 1980 by E.G. Records. It debuted at number 41 on the UK Albums Chart on 26 October 1980 and later peaked at number 39. The album has been called "an underground classic" for fans of "heavy music",[1] and has influenced artists ranging from Nirvana to Marilyn Manson and Metallica.

Recording and content[edit]

Killing Joke was recorded in August 1980 at Marquee Studios in London,[2] shortly after a small tour promoting the Almost Red EP. The album was self-produced by the band on purpose. They only wanted an engineer "who can put their technical knowledge into what we want, the way we want it. He's got to take us as we are". They recorded it live in the studio as "basic" as possible with "no overdubs to speak of"; Ferguson explained, "The mixing is where the difference is".[3]

The album's lyrics were written by frontman and vocalist Jaz Coleman, and expressed his opinions on issues such as politics, death, hypocrisy, human nature, pollution and exile.

The artwork was based on a photograph by Don McCullin of young rioters trying to escape from clouds of CS gas released by the British Army in Derry, Northern Ireland, on 8 July 1971 during the Troubles.[4] The original picture was taken a few months before the day now known as Bloody Sunday that took place in the same town in early 1972.


Killing Joke was released on 5 October 1980 by E.G. Records, who were distributed at the time by Polydor Records.[5][6] It entered the UK Albums Chart on 25 October 1980, and eventually reached number 39.[7]

The album produced three singles: "Wardance", "Change" and "Requiem".

The 2005 and 2008 reissues of Killing Joke featured several bonus tracks, such as previously released B-sides and demo tracks. The tracks were listed in addition to the UK original release, being that "Change" was track 9 instead of track 7, as it was in the original US release. The 2008 reissue was dedicated in memory of bassist Paul Raven, who performed on his last album with Killing Joke in 2006. Raven died of heart failure in October 2007. Since then, every reissue of Killing Joke's studio albums has been dedicated to him.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[1]
The Austin Chronicle3/5 stars[8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music4/5 stars[9]
Mojo4/5 stars[10]
MusicHound Rock5/5 stars[11]
Uncut3/5 stars[13]

In his retrospective review, Bradley Torreano of AllMusic praised the album, writing, "Since 1980, there have been a hundred bands who sound like this, but before Steve Albini and Al Jourgensen made it hip, the cold metallic throb of Killing Joke was exciting and fresh", calling it an "underground classic" that "deserves better than its relative unknown status".[1]

Sputnikmusic called it a "post-punk masterpiece of tribal funk-rock and grinding heavy metal with suitably doom-mongering lyrics and splenetic vocals".[14] In 2019, Pitchfork placed the album at No. 9 on their "33 Best Industrial Albums of All Time" list.[15]


Dave Grohl has cited it as one of his favorite albums.[16] Several musicians, including Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Tool, Soundgarden, Metallica[17] and Marilyn Manson[18] have been influenced by Killing Joke.

"The Wait" was covered by Metallica on The $5.98 EP: Garage Days Re-Revisited EP in 1987 and was later featured on Garage, Inc. "Primitive" was covered by Helmet in 1993 as the A-side to their "Primitive" single, and later added to their Born Annoying compilation album. "Requiem" was covered by Foo Fighters in 1997 as a B-side to the "Everlong" single.

The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[19]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Jaz Coleman; all music composed by Killing Joke (Coleman, Kevin "Geordie" Walker, Martin "Youth" Glover, Paul Ferguson), except as noted.

Side A
1."Requiem" 3:45
2."Wardance" 3:49
3."Tomorrow's World" 5:31
  • Walker
  • Glover
  • Ferguson
Side B
5."The Wait"3:45
Note: The original US release featured the track "Change" in between tracks "Complications" and "S.O.36". "Change" was later released as an unofficial single.


Killing Joke


Year Chart Peak
1980 UK Albums Chart 39[7]


  1. ^ a b c Torreano, Bradley. "Killing Joke – Killing Joke". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  2. ^ Sutcliffe, Phil (9 August 1980). "That Primitive Feeling". Sounds.
  3. ^ Needs, Kris (September 1980). "Killing Joke". ZigZag (105).
  4. ^ Williams, Olivia (30 December 2011). "Don McCullin: Celebrated War Photographer on the Value of His Craft". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Killing Joke". Melody Maker. 27 September 1980. p. 3.
  6. ^ "The Mojo Collection: 4th Edition the Ultimate Music Companion". Mojo. 2007: 453.
    Heatley, Michael, Paul Lester and Chris Roberts. (27 August 1998). The Encyclopedia of Albums. Dempsey Parr. ISBN 1840840315.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b "Official Charts: Killing Joke Page". Official Charts. Retrieved 11 December 2015.
  8. ^ Gray, Christopher (16 December 2005). "Review: Killing Joke, What's THIS For ... ?, Revelations, Ha!". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 1 February 2015.
  9. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-85712-595-8.
  10. ^ "Killing Joke: Killing Joke". Mojo: 108. 'Wardance' has to be one of post-punk's finest anthems.
  11. ^ Holtje, Steve (1999). "Killing Joke". In Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds.). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide (loan required). Detroit: Visible Ink Press. pp. 629–630. ISBN 978-1-57859-061-2 – via the Internet Archive.
  12. ^ Perry, Neil (July 1991). "Killing Joke: Killing Joke / What's THIS For..! / Revelations / Fire Dances / Night Time / Brighter Than a Thousand Suns / Outside the Gate". Select (13): 86.
  13. ^ "Killing Joke: Killing Joke". Uncut: 116. [A]t their most progressive they kept pace with more lauded contemporaries like Joy Division, Gang of Four and PiL.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Collins, Sean T. (17 June 2019). "Music for the Dark: The 33 Best Industrial Albums of All Time". Pitchfork. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  16. ^ "Conspiracy of two". Kerrang!. 12 April 2003
  17. ^ Knowles, Christopher (1 October 2010). The Secret History of Rock 'n' Roll. Cleis Press. p. 182. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  18. ^ Hartmann, Graham (2 March 2012). "Marilyn Manson Calls New Album His 'Grandest Concept Record' + Disputes 'Shock Rock' Label". Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  19. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (23 March 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2.
  20. ^ Coleman, Jaz (2013). Letters from Cythera, p. 272. self-published.

External links[edit]