Decibrity Playlist: Coliseum

In case you haven’t heard, the new Coliseum record—which was one of our Top 20 Most Anticipated Records of 2013—comes out on Tuesday. Our May issue not only has Shane Mehling’s review of Sister Faith (spoiler alert: he likes it), but Adrien Begrand’s profile of the Louisville trio. In fact, said interview with Ryan Patterson ended up serving as the impetus behind the vocalist/guitarist’s playlist that he was kind enough to pass along (spoiler alert #2: Killing Joke fans—who should be sure to check out our June 2011 issue for this—are in for a treat). We’ll let Ryan take it from here:
Since Decibel‘s Adrian Begrand and I briefly discussed Killing Joke during my recent interview and he perceptively pinpointed them as an important influence and touchstone for the band, I thought it apt that my Decibel playlist highlight my favorite songs from the seminal British band. Although Coliseum ultimately sounds relatively little like Killing Joke and they are but one of a number of important bands that inspire us, they are an easy band to obsess over. Their massive catalog and 35 year history leave much to discuss, dissect, disagree on, and be passionate about, which those of us in the band and producer J. Robbins (a dyed in the wool Killing Joke fan) spent a lot of time doing during the recording of our new album, Sister Faith. As great now as they’ve ever been, Killing Joke are as powerful an inspiration in 2013 as they have been during their various peaks in 1980, 1985 and 2003.

(Also, I must note that I downloaded Spotify solely for this project and deleted it upon its completion, it’s not a service that I am interested in supporting because it doesn’t support artists. If you like these songs, go buy these records!)”

You can listen along here.

“Absolute Dissent” (from 2010’s Absolute Dissent)
After the death of longtime bass player Paul Raven, the original Killing Joke lineup reconnected and reunited to record the absolutely pummeling Absolute Dissent album. This song is a perfect representation and highlight of the post-1990 Killing Joke sound—a souring chorus with singer Jaz Coleman’s incredibly melodic and gruff vocals (a huge influence on me as a singer) reaching into the heavens, flowing and melodic guitar work by Geordie Walker (another huge influence on me and the only other KJ constant along with Coleman), all backed by elevating bass lines and powerful near-tribal, heavy but danceable rhythms.


“You’ll Never Get To Me” (from 2003’s Killing Joke)
In 2003, seven years after their previous album and having been written off by many as a lesser version of the bands they inspired, Killing Joke returned with their second self-titled album and completely demolished the expectations of fans and detractors alike. Produced and drum programmed by Gang Of Four’s Andy Gill, the record benefitted from high profile fan Dave Grohl’s appearance as drummer and the attention that his involvement brought to the project. Luckily, the band was in top form and Coleman and Walker (along with original bassist Youth) more than rose to the occasion. Just about every Killing Joke record since Night Time has one mid-album long, melodic, epic song and those are very often my favorites on the records. I have been known to listen to this song on repeat, over and over. It’s the kind of song that I never want to end. It moves me and speaks directly to me. If this was the only song Killing Joke ever wrote, they would still be one of my favorite bands of all time.


“Europe” (from 1985’s Night Time)
While assembling this playlist, I was tempted to simply pick all the songs from Night Time, in order, and talk a bit about each one. I ended up with just three tracks from this amazing album, but I easily could have fixated on all eight. If not for Killing Joke’s flawless, essential, game changing 1980 debut album, this would be my favorite in their oeuvre. Hell, it might be anyway. It’s a strange and beautiful record, caught in a unique spot between gothic post-punk, the heavier elements that gave birth to industrial music, and dance-friendly nightclub sounds. A lesser band could have taken this step and fallen into a void of attempted pop crap or well-intention cheese. Instead, it’s created with utter sincerity and the outcome was stunning. (Spotify annoyingly has the cover to the vastly inferior Brighter Than A Thousand Suns assigned to this album. Granted, half of Killing Joke’s records have photos of Jaz on the cover so it’s easy to get confused.)


“Complication” (from 2008’s The Peel Sessions: 1979-1981)
This version of “Complications” is slightly stronger than the version from the self-titled debut album due to a less murky recording and a crucial backing vocal harmony in the chorus. Montreal’s Complications, named after this song, are one of my favorite current bands and put their own slant on the early Killing Joke vibe. Check out their Complications LP on Feral Ward.


“The Hum” (from 1982’s Revelations)
Between the first album and Night Time, Killing Joke started to reach out into different directions, with varying results. Their second album, What’s THIS For…!, is a strange follow up to such a strong first outing. Despite having reasonably good songs, it follows the exact formula of the first album without having material that is quite as strong. Their third album, Revelations, saw the band beginning to define the path they’d perfect on Night Time with cleaner (very “80s”) production and more melody seeping into their now patented dark, gothic dance/industrial/post-punk. Revelations‘ two best songs are its first two, but it’s a solid listen throughout and probably among the band’s five or six best records.


“Let’s All Go (To The Fire Dances)” (from 1983’s Fire Dances)
Fire Dances is a record that I must admit I forget to appreciate as much as I probably should. It might actually be a better album than Revelations, even though I find myself listening to Revelations more often and referencing it regularly. I suppose I’ll have to remedy that. This one marks the first appearance of bassist Paul Raven, a crucial part of the Killing Joke lineup and history. Fire Dances can get pretty “dance-y” and almost dips into territory that’s too tribal, but highlights like this one can’t be denied. That chorus…wow!


“In Cythera” (from 2012’s MMXII)
Remember those mid-album melodic masterpieces I mentioned earlier? “In Cythera” is that song from Killing Joke’s most recent album, MMXII. It’s a strong record, not their best nor my favorite but a very respectable entry in a career this long. Most other bands would be lucky to make one album this good, much less kick this much ass on full length number fifteen. This song is wonderful and touching.


“Total Invasion” (from 2003’s Killing Joke)
As heavy as Killing Joke gets…and it’s pretty damn heavy. That chorus hook could level city blocks. The guitar on this album has such a strange boxy, scooped quality, something I would detest in most cases but somehow works so perfectly in this context. What else can I say? This is heavy music done absolutely perfectly.


“Love Like Blood” (from 1985’s Night Time)
I’d put this in my top five favorite songs ever. Everything about this song is perfect (a word I keep coming back to throughout this commentary). In doing a little research while writing this piece, I read that Mötley Crüe took Killing Joke on tour in 2005. I wonder if that was that to repay them for outright stealing the riff from “Love Like Blood” for “Dr. Feelgood?” I love this video too.


“Eighties” (from 1985’s Night Time)
Speaking of stealing…reports differ as to whether Nirvana had to settle with Killing Joke after biting this riff for their mopey “Come As You Are”, but apparently all was sorted by the time Dave Grohl stepped behind the drums for Killing Joke in 2003. No one is above a little obvious riff-biting here and there, but for my money Nirvana never came close to Killing Joke and few songs can top the fun and sarcasm of this essential barn-burner. Another great video with Jaz at the podium, Geordie looking androgynous in his clerical collar, Raven’s red tie and pleated pleather pants and Paul Ferguson’s bouncing pompadour.


“Requiem” (from 1980’s Killing Joke)
One of the the best songs ever, with one of the best guitar parts ever, opening one of the best albums ever from one of the best bands ever. This song simply cannot be topped or duplicated. It’s absolutely wonderful and perfect, kicking off an inspiring, challenging, and unparalleled career.


*Pre-order a copy of Sister Faith here.

**Coliseum tour dates:

05-10 Louisville, KY- Zanzabar *
05-11 Columbus, OH – Double Happiness
05-12 Chicago, IL- Empty Bottle
05-13 Detroit, MI- Magic Stick
05-14 Hamilton, ON – The Casbah
05-15 Toronto, ON- Silver Dollar ^
05-16 Ottawa, ON- Mavericks ^
05-17 Boston, MA- TT and The Bears ^
05-18 Montreal, QC- Drones Club ^
05-19 New Haven, CT- Cafe Nine ^
05-21 Brooklyn, NY- Knitting Factory +
05-22 Philadelphia, PA- Kung Fu Necktie +
05-23 Washington, DC- Black Cat +
05-24 Baltimore, MD- Sidebar Tavern (Maryland Deathfest Afterparty) +
05-25 York, PA – The Depot
05-26 Asheville, NC- Static Age Records #
05-27 Durham, NC- The Pinhook $
05-28 Birmingham, AL- the Forge
05-30 Atlanta, GA- The Earl
05-31 New Orleans, LA- Circle Bar
06-01 Austin, TX- Chaos in Tejas %
06-02 Dallas, TX- Doublewide Bar
06-04 Lawrence, KS -Granada Theatre %
06-05 St, Louis- MO- The Firebird %
06-08 Grand Rapids, MI- Pyramid Scheme %
06-09 Madison, WI- The Majestic Theatre %
06-11 Indianapolis, IN- Deluxe @ Old National Theatre %
06-12 Cincinnati, OH- Taft Ballroom %
06-14 Pittsburgh, PA- Mr. Small’s %
06-15 Huntington, WV- V Club %

* w/ Anwar Sadat, Tropical Trash
^ w/ California X
+ w/ Red Hare
# w/ US Christmas
$ w/ Brokeback
% w/ Baroness

***We update one Spotify playlist for each new Decibrity entry, so feel free to subscribe to that here. Past entries include:

Soilwork (Dirk Verbeuren) (Björn Strid)
Inter Arma
Helen Money
Misery Index
Ancient VVisdom
Holy Grail
Rotten Sound
Ancestors (Part 1) (Part 2)
Kowloon Walled City (Part 1) (Part 2)
Aaron Stainthorpe (My Dying Bride) (Part 1) (Part 2)
Early Graves
All That Remains
Bison B.C.
A Life Once Lost
Fight Amp
Witchcraft (Ola Henriksson) (Magnus Pelander)
Vision of Disorder
Anders Nyström (Katatonia) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Rush (Part 1) (Part 2)
Shadows Fall
Greg Mackintosh (Paradise Lost) (Part 1) (Part 2)
“Best of” Meshuggah
Barren Earth
Shane Embury (Napalm Death) (Part 1) (Part 2)