Killing Joke - Night Time (Cover Artwork)

Killing Joke

Night Time (1985)


Killing Joke found the right balance between harsh and soft music when they made 1985’s Night Time, their fifth release. The eight tracks on this album showcase the group stripping away some of the grime from their early punk roots and instead adding more melody and synths which in turn deconstructed the Post-Punk genre and became a good mix of Post-Punk/New-Wave/and early dance Electronica. Of course this shift in style would continue into a reach for more commercial status with their remaining 80’s output, but those albums dragged the band down and left them to be forgotten in the media. Only the hardcore fans stayed along, but barely…

Killing Joke as a band had never truly given up though and with comeback album’s like 1990’s brutal Extremities, Dirt and Various Repressed Emotions, their second self-titled album released in 2003 (more on that later), and 2010’s Absolute Dissent which saw the most well-known lineup reunite for a stellar record, the band still plows along and lead singer Jaz Coleman is still as crazy as ever.

Night Time is perhaps the band at their peak. Jaz Coleman as a singer really shines and his contrasting vocal style of softer singing followed by guttural growls has a nice blend that adds to the overall feel. In particular, his singing on songs like “Multitudes” and “Eighties” showcase his range and emotional well of moody talent.

The rest of the band stepped it up as well. It must have been a good recording process because each member just gels magnificently. Drummer Paul Ferguson bangs on his kit in an almost metal way which shows up on tracks like the mentioned “Eighties” as well as the title track, but it’s not overblown and his rhythms give the songs a certain beat that makes the dance thing not seem out of place. Same goes for bassist Paul Raven. He’s the secret ingredient here. His bass playing is heard very well and each song is juiced up to the max with that deep groove that only a bass guitar can give. Listen to his playing on tracks “Darkness Before Dawn” and “Eighties”.

So let’s just get this out of the way now. The last track, “Eighties” is perhaps the album highlight. Not to skip out on single “Love Like Blood” which is pretty great, and the one track that dramatically showed off the bands immediate change when this album first came out, but “Eighties” is one of those album cuts that just never stops and keeps on going and going. I’m not talking about the running time, but instead the remembrance that comes after you hear it. There’s this sound to it that is just great. Maybe it’s the awesome guitar playing by Kevin "Geordie" Walker, who also shines brilliantly on the album, or perhaps the metal sounding drumming mentioned earlier, or even the bass that pounds the listener, but really though… the track is just freekin’ killer! Jaz is at his most ferocious here as well and while the song is sorta stuck in time (being about the 80’s and all), it’s still a Post-Punk classic.

And then we come to Nirvana... To shorten this up, Nirvana’s second single “Come as You Are” steals the guitar riff from “Eighties”. There’s no question about it. Now to say though that it was simply stolen might be a bit harsh. Kurt Cobain actually liked Killing Joke amongst many other notable underground bands, so perhaps it was all done in tribute. Still, the Nirvana song became their second hit and they rode the waves all the while Killing Joke wondered what the heck was happening!

Eventually rumors of a potential lawsuit appeared but never came to fruition and in the end both bands were upset about the whole ordeal which is understandable. In truth, Kurt was apprehensive about releasing the song as a single due to the similarities, but the label got what they wanted and you all know the rest. Not all became gloom and doom though! Dave Grohl, being the awesome guy that he is, wanted to make amends so he offered his support to Killing Joke by drumming on their underrated 2003 self-titled album. What other artists do that these days?

There’s much to learn about certain kinds of music out there. It’s all accessible more than ever now so go back and hear what came before and make up your own minds about it. Night Time is totally worth it though. Dig it…


*Bonus Trivia*


Check out the song “Life Goes On” by The Damned. Originally released on their fifth album Strawberries from 1982, the track features the exact same riff as both “Eighties” and “Come as You Are”. Killing Joke claimed to have no knowledge of this…