Review – Killer Be Killed: Killer Be Killed

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Review – Killer Be Killed: Killer Be Killed
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Killer Be Killed: Killer Be Killed
Groove Metal, Progressive Metal, Punk, Sludge Metal
Nuclear Blast Records
May 9th, 2014
Release length: 45:53
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Not too long ago, in a desert far, far away, Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, former Sepultura) and Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) spent three days together, coming up with over a dozen demos with a four-track recorder and the drum machine used to work on Chaos A.D. according to the press releases Nuclear Blast Records has been sending out. Eventually drummer Dave Elitch (former The Mars Volta) and bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders (Mastodon) were brought into the fold. Thus, Killer Be Killed was born. After some rehearsals, the band ventured into The Fortress studios with producer Josh Wilbur (Lamb of God, Gojira) and recorded what has become their debut self-titled album. And so ends the history of an odd collection of musicians, but is the next chapter a truly inspiring and cohesive experience, or does it fall prey to the typical supergroup faults of creative egos clashing for dominance?

Killer Be Killed kicks the festivities off with “Wings of Feather and Wax,” which will really throw some fans. The main verses have that signature groove found on anything Max has done since Roots by Sepultura with Max appearing randomly behind Troy’s rougher lead vocals. The chorus unexpectedly shifts into a more melodic chorus with clean singing just edgy enough to be dismissed by today’s Rock radio stations, a stark contrast to “Face Down,” which comes off more like a new Soulfly track. The rough and sung vocal styles of the band’s many vocalists work perfectly to give the performance a hint of harmony against the abrasiveness, as well as slight Punk influence that comes in half way through, caving to a rather heavy breakdown towards the end that is simply dismal and hopeless compared to the adrenaline soaked anger of “I.E.D.”. As you approach the two minute mark things move into a slower pace with drums that carry a bit of a tribal rhythm with some soothing singing, lasting a good minute before keeping the brief Hardcore spirit alive with the attitude fuelled riffs that follow.

There’s a bit of a Punk vibe to “Fire to Your Flag,” but laced in more as a Crossover Thrash approach that you might hear on a Gwar album. For the most part it mixes together crushing Hardcore riffs and a blastbeat fueled closing, all with varied crushing grooves and Sludge Metal hooks. This track is like the melting pot of the entire group’s back history, all flowing smoothly from start to finish to create one of the most impressive offerings Killer Be Killed has to offer. But despite the groove heavy foundations, “Snake of Jehova” has a heavy Sludge Metal influence to it. This shows through a lot more on the chorus though, which blends the signature Mastodon vocals with a hint of melody that almost become trance inducing in some spots after the raspy screaming.

While Killer Be Killed is largely cohesive from start to finish, “Save the Robots” ends up the only song that sticks out like a sore thumb. It carries an Alternative Rock vibe throughout with restrained clean singing, while the chorus has a much more powerful performance that carries more of a Pearl Jam touch laced with the aforementioned Sludge Metal style. The latter really comes through about two minute and forty-five seconds in, which expands into Progressive Metal technicality for a brief time. The only thing missing really is a southern touch, and given how Troy Sanders can come across like Motorhead‘s Lemmy, it’s a shame this was emphasized a little more here, as well as in the chorus of “Dust Into Darkness.” While the main verses are far too heavy and ugly to hit mainstream success, it’s the lighter chorus and enthusiastic singing that seems to be from the back of the throat that pushes the Rock element to the forefront.

Killer be Killed‘s ability to leave ego at the door and write as a completely cohesive unit is simply uncanny. Each track on this release offers its own unique experience that spans not only the member’s own signature sounds without ever clashing within the song or from one another, but also ventures into unexpected musical territories. In fact there’s so much dispersed throughout the release it’ll take a least one spin for it all to sink in. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a fan of one member or another, if you enjoy the work of one or two band members in Killer Be Killed, then this is an album you need to experience with all preconceptions and personal opinions left at the door.

01. Wings of Feather and Wax – 3:41
02. Face Down – 4:35
03. Melting of My Marrow – 4:39
04. Snakes of Jehova – 4:02
05. Curb Crusher – 3:31
06. Save the Robots – 4:12
07. Fire to Your Flag – 2:32
08. I.E.D. – 4:36
09. Dust Into Darkness – 3:58
10. Twelve Labors – 4:30
11. Forbidden Fire – 5:39
Initial Pressing Score: 9.5/10

Killer Be Killed
Killer Be Killed

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.