Killing Joke - Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell
Cooking Vinyl
Experimental Post-Punk/Industrial Metal
9 songs (1:12:23)
Release year: 2006
Killing Joke, Cooking Vinyl
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

Pretty much an influence to some extent on every single Metal band formed after 1980, British Post-Punk institution Killing Joke have been walking their own not-quite-Metal-but-pretty-damn-close path for over a quarter of a century, and their most recent album finds them heavier than ever. It’s aimed for fans above all, continuing along the path started by their awesome 2003 self-titled album, and was recorded in a basement studio in the Czech Republic using 1970s equipment to achieve the necessary dark atmosphere, yet sounds absolutely terrific, the kind of album you can listen to over and over again. Self-indulgent to the max, with just a single song under five minutes, Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell is nonetheless amongst the finest Killing Joke albums for the sheer attitude alone. Frontman Jaz Coleman is pushing fifty years of age yet sounds absolutely amazing, his instantly recognisable gruff voice a Lemmy-esque clarion call that sounds better than ever – Killing Joke are at their best when inciting to riot, and the opening track here This Tribal Antidote is that and more, a joyous blast that simply demands that you dance along. From the opening order to ‘lift up your spirits!’ Killing Joke’s Heavy Metal and Dub elements are at their strongest, and the instruments fuse into one mesmeric pound.

It just gets better from there. The title track is as stirring and catchy as first I heard it back three years ago (the official video can be seen here, or with a simple YouTube search) and the following Invocation is stunning, extra orchestral elements (conducted by Jaz, who has worked with multiple Symphony Orchestras in the past two decades and is the Composer in Residence of the European Union) especially effective as the Middle-Eastern atmosphere builds in tension, some wonderfully-used percussion adding to the drama. Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell is definitely an album that creeps up on you rather than making its brilliance known immediately, despite the instantly thrilling likes of Implosion, riff-driven heaviness as cathartic and pounding as any of their classic 80s albums. Fine, you have to have the patience to wait for certain tracks to build and fall, but they’re all epic invocations, true hosannas that walk the line between Industrial Metal and the sort of Post-Punk slash early Metal that the band started off playing.

Noteworthy there is that Killing Joke aren’t quite ‘proper’ Metal. Even heavy clunkers like Walking With Gods have a dancefloor-friendly vibe that you wouldn’t expect from ‘normal’ Metal, and yet this is clearly a damn sight heavier than most Rock, Metal becoming part of the band’s sound after they helped to influence it so. The Industrial pound of several tracks will likely be familiar to Ministry fans, and yet it’s Ministry who took influence from Killing Joke rather than the other way around. Everyone from Metallica to Tool has acknowledged the debt that they owe to Coleman and co, and Killing Joke’s relative obscurity in the Metal world is a source of shame – the conveyor-belt-to-Hell sound of The Lightbringer alone beats anything that Fear Factory have ever produced, and the ominous rumble of Judas Goat hits several Progressive targets.

As the melancholic Sludge of Gratitude closes the album in style, it’s hard not to start playing the whole thing again. If their time in the business has taught Killing Joke anything, it’s how to write great songs, and Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell is packed with such. Comparing their debut album to their latest, it’s amazing how little the band have changed – they may be heavier and gnarlier now, but that same atmosphere and basic musical style is present and correct, and we’re all the better for it. The recent sad death of bassist Paul Raven made have made the band pause; let’s hope it doesn’t hold them back in the long-term when albums as amazing as this are being made.

Killing Songs :
This Tribal Antidote, Hosannas From The Basement Of Hell, Invocation, Implosion, The Lightbringer
Goat quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Killing Joke that we have reviewed:
Killing Joke - MMXII reviewed by Andy and quoted 90 / 100
Killing Joke - Absolute Dissent reviewed by Goat and quoted 90 / 100
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