Review Summary: A catchy as fuck album that doesn't take itself too seriously and sounds like the product of an extremely fun jam session between friends...
Goddamnit this album is fun.
Killer Be Killed is one of those supergroups that doesn't suck. For those who don't know, KBK is made up of all-around badasses Greg Puciato of Dillinger Escape Plan on vocals/guitars and Troy Sanders of Mastodon on bass/vocals, legendary metal dude Max Cavalera on vocals/guitars, and former Mars Volta drummer Dave Elitch. To be upfront, I'm not a huge fan of the Dillinger Escape Plan (but I worship Puciato), but Mastodon is one of my favorite bands.
Cavalera has my respect just for all he's done in the metal world, but in terms of The Mars Volta, I absolutely can't stand them (nothing personal, their music just sounds like an ADD overload to me). Overall, Killer Be Killed was an interesting proposition for me if nothing else.
Killer Be Killed the album begins with the catchiest track on the entire record: "Wings of Feathers & Wax" is clean vocal-driven, both by Sanders' gruff melodies and Puciato's juicy as hell chorus. "Wings" does get much heavier in the second half of the song, with Cavalera's familiar roar first rearing it's head in the second verse. Elitch destroys the second half of "Wings" in the best way possible with his creative fills. It's not a super complex track overall, but damnit if "Wings of Feathers & Wax" isn't fun. Much of Killer Be Killed's self-titled debut embodies the feeling of four friends jamming just for the hell of it.
"Melting of My Marrow" is one of a handful of slower-paced tracks here, as Puciato slays the first verse with his crooning, before Cavalera shouts "WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE, DEATH UNTO US ALL" and Sanders comes in with the chorus. The main selling point of Killer Be Killed is obviously the chance to hear three of the best singers in metal trade off verses throughout, but the music they've written is the real driving point here. "Snakes of Jehovah" is ***ing creepy in the intro, with that badass guitar screeching and the extremely doomy feel overall.
"Curb Crusher" is a track that many people have pointed to in their sound-offs. It's certainly a heavy track, and throws in a deceptive intro to boot. Based on the tribal drum fills heard in the first few seconds, you think you're in for a breather, but befitting its title, "Curb Crusher" absolutely beats your face in. The chorus is delectable just to hear Max roar "CRUSH YOUR DEMONS" as Sanders blasts a reply. It's classic dual-vocal call and response, with a twist. "Save The Robots" is weird as hell in the intro, and then Sanders gives us his best performance of the album over a bed of nail-like riffs. "Fire to Your Flag" is an outlier here as it's the fastest song on Killer Be Killed, but it's ***ing fun.
Guitar-wise, the riffs are ***ing heavy, there's no other way to describe it. Although Puciato plays guitar on Killer Be Killed, the tone is classic Max Cavalera all the way. The guitars mostly provide a solid groove for the vocals to follow. The bass is kind of rendered obsolete unfortunately, but Dave Elitch is undoubtedly the MVP of Killer Be Killed's self-titled debut. Having never extensively listened to Mars Volta before, I had no clue about Elitch's ability, but he won me over. The dude is an animal on the kit, and I truly wonder why he's not mentioned among the very best drummers around more often.
Cavalera described Killer Be Killed in initial interviews as being similar to his industrial project Nailbomb. Instead, Killer Be Killed is heavy-as-hell melodic metal album that offers moments for everyone: fans of Dillinger Escape Plan-esque ape*** insanity are encouraged to aim for "Fire to Your Flag", fans of Mastodon weirdness are advised to spin "Dust Into Darkness" and "Forbidden Fire", and fans of Cavalera will smile whenever "Curb Crusher" invades your ear buds.
Killer Be Killed is a badass debut album from one of the most talked-about metal supergroups in quite a while, and a great jam. Although it is likely that Killer Be Killed will sadly be a one-off project, it's a great one-off to leave us with. Turn up the speakers, and bang your ***ing head.