Their first album Killing Joke was released in 1980. After the release of Revelations in 1982, bassist Youth was replaced by Paul Raven. The band achieved mainstream success in 1985 with both the album Night Time and the single “Love Like Blood“.
A key influence on industrial rock, their early music was described by critics Stephen Thomas Erlewine and John Dougan as “quasi-metal […] dancing to a tune of doom and gloom”, which gradually evolved over the years, incorporating elements of electronic music, synthpop and gothic rock, though always emphasising Coleman’s “savagely strident vocals”. Killing Joke have influenced many later bands and artists, such as Metallica, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden. Coleman and Geordie have been the only constant members of the band.