No Punch Line From Killing Joke

Ten years ago, Killing Joke began a wall-of-sound juggernaut across the post-punk soundscape with such innovative metal-dance anthems as “Change” and “Wardance.” After a two-year layoff, the English quartet roared into town over the weekend, headlining the Ford Theatre and playing a Saturday set in Los Angeles at the Club With No Name. (When the Joke finished at 3 a.m., it seemed like the club with no schedule too.)

The band may have a new rhythm section, including original Public Image Ltd. drummer Martin Atkins, but not much has changed since “Change,” which is still Killing Joke’s best song. Too much of the material falls into the same minor-chord mush, though the group still has the energy and sonic density of a DC-10 lifting off.

Singer Jaz Coleman, who attempts an apocalyptic pagan image, is more clumsy than compelling. With his blow-dried hair, sweat pants and messy Magic Marker scribbles on his face, Coleman resembled a Middle Eastern lounge singer on a bad mushroom trip. His kung-fu gestures did nothing to enhance his overblown sermons about greed and cholesterol.