Killer Be Killed
Reluctant Hero


3.2
good

Review

by Simon K. STAFF
December 1st, 2020 | 59 replies


Release Date: 11/20/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Reluctant listener.

On paper Killer Be Killed is the greatest supergroup assembly since Them Crooked Vultures. After all, Them Crooked Vultures takes three of rock’s most venerable musicians, plonks them in a room together and attempts to kindle the creative juices of, arguably, the most important contributors in rock music today. However, the problem with these almighty team ups is that the music almost never amounts to anything of significance. Indeed, looking at the calibre involved with Vultures in particular, the band’s eponymous debut album should have been thirteen tracks graded at “Stairway to Heaven” levels of exceptional; what reality really offered us was a concoction of airtight hard-rock jams with a glaringly obvious competence and virtuosity – albeit not the greatest rock compositions ever devised by man, like they should have been. In a similar scenario, Killer Be Killed could be considered the metal genre’s equivalent to Them Crooked Vultures: Max Cavalera (Soulfly), Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan), and, before Ben Koller of Converge fame replaced him for this record, David Elitch (The Mars Volta). With a line-up like that, I need to be frank here for a moment; back when Killer Be Killed unified its omnipotent powers in 2014, I was ecstatic with the prospects. The problem was, like Them Crooked Vultures – and the inherent problems associated with supergroups in general – when Killer Be Killed released their debut album six years ago, it landed with okay-ish results but fell prey to the dreaded problems almost every supergroup falls victim to: a lack of the right synergistic chemistry needed to knock their sound out of the park.

The harsh truth is that Killer Be Killed just didn’t do a great deal of anything outside of being competent. In fact, if it weren’t for “Wings of Feather and Wax” being such a damn good song, Killer Be Killed, and the band in general, would have long been forgotten about. With that being said, and to Killer Be Killed’s credit, Reluctant Hero is marginally more consistent than its rudimentary and flaccid predecessor, but even that praise is marred by a lot of the same problems left over from their debut LP. At nearly fifty minutes in length, the most overt problem here is the bloated run time – and the annoying thing is, it could have easily been amended with the removal of some deadwood, or a few splices here and there from the songs that generally work well. For every “Deconstructing Self-Destruction” there’s a “Filthy Vagabond” lurking behind it to hinder the record’s brazenly apparent potential. There are a number of noteworthy moments to be had here – the catchy, ascending riffage on “Left of Center” being one of them, with Troy’s smoke-y, baritone growls being used to set up Greg’s melodious and infectious choruses. It’s a track that has a succinct vision and executes its ambitions well. For the longest time I could never quite put my finger on what Killer Be Killed were lacking in order to make their sound more vigorous and effective. After hearing what works well here, I think I have sussed the issue, and I’m not entirely sure it’s something most people want to hear or will agree with, but I find the evidence irrefutable; Killer Be Killed are at their best when they’re offering benign ambience and melodic accessibility.

A lot of the songs here try too hard to shoehorn in thrash-y riffs, raging tempos, and Cavalera’s thunderous roars, but these moments only elicit ennui. It’s when the album reveals a window of ethereal opportunity and let’s Greg present his delicious melodies over a cosmic backdrop – mainly in parts of “From a Crowded Wound”, “The Great Purge” and “Dead Limbs”, as well as augmenting these moments with some undeniably awesome guitar solos for good measure – where the LP tends to flourish the most. Sure, the bone-grinding breakdown in “Comfort from Nothing” and the track’s overall thrashing sensibilities provide the band with some success in this breakneck style, bringing with it some semblance of intrigue to the table. However, I found myself far more transfixed by Reluctant Hero’s moments of respite. “Reluctant Hero”’s post-rock introduction and its booming mid-section pay-off delivers one of the crowning highlights for the entire album, while the rest of the record is peppered with great reverb-y, ambient soundscapes and really well-executed vocal performances from all parties involved, unearthing the squandered potential here. Unfortunately, these aspects are definitely overlooked in favour of the aforementioned thrash-y, hardcore sound.

Despite Reluctant Hero’s shortcomings, overall, this is still a much more solid offering than their first attempt, and as far as supergroup records go, this is certainly one of the better ones. The issue I have with this band’s abrasive tendencies is when they use this sound, it just comes across like a Mastodon/Soulfly/DEG mashups, rather than a balanced, fully formed sound. When the band breaks away from these confines and focuses on what they’re clearly good at – i.e. effective hooks and serene, spacey instrumentals – there is a far more interesting side to this record. It’s just a shame these elements are used more as an appendage here, but here’s hoping for next time…

FORMAT//EDITIONS:
DIGITAL//VINYL//CD//CASSETTE

ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE:
www.killerbekilled.com



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Killer Be Killed


Comments:Add a Comment 
AxeToFall93
December 1st 2020


249 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This just a fun listen, much better and more coherent than the debut.



They just need to ditch Cavalera.

DDDeftoneDDD
December 1st 2020


14596 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Its a 4 and better than debut

Bye

Digging: Deafheaven - 10 Years Gone

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
December 1st 2020


16707 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

"They just need to ditch Cavalera."



I also believe this is the fundamental flaw as well. It's the same with the debut, where you can just hear his contributions on the album and they don't mesh as well

Digging: Solstafir - Endless Twilight of Codependent Love

Megabomberman
December 1st 2020


55 Comments


I've never like any of Cavalera's stuff, but I really enjoy him within this line up. Best example being Inner Calm Outer Storm, his sections are always so cheesy which is what really elevates the more standard fair on this. Same with Filthy Vagabond, pure cheese but such fun.

DDDeftoneDDD
December 1st 2020


14596 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Honnestly for every Puciato fan this is often spot on...he s definetly on front here, as opposed to the debut...you can also def spot is finger on the songs...and there s a few omfg moments drawn by him, specially on the ending of the songs.

Demon of the Fall
December 1st 2020


17463 Comments


‘Stairway to Heaven levels of exceptional’ - a middling track within Led Zep’s own discog, okay then. Regardless of opinions that just seemed like a really odd thing to put in a Killer be Killed review.

I was unimpressed (at best) by their first release, not sure if I should check this.

Digging: Sonic Youth - Goo

DDDeftoneDDD
December 1st 2020


14596 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Not sure either...it has more Puciato imo, which is a good thing...the harmonies between him and Troy are v good...and Troy does not blow here

DatsNotDaMetulz
December 1st 2020


4023 Comments


Thing is, Max has an established melodic side through the Soulfly instrumentals (and other instrumental tracks throughout the Soulfly discography e.g. Karmageddon, Psalmo 91, etc) so you can't rule out the possibility he had a hand in the more ambient/progressive moments of this album.

Dwap
December 1st 2020


182 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Max might be the weakest link but he deserves his spot on the team. This album is great. Better than the first.

wildinferno2010
December 2nd 2020


1244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"At nearly fifty minutes in length, the most overt problem here is the bloated run time"



I guess it's genre-dependent, but can under 50 minutes really be considered bloated for a metal album?



From what I've heard of this, it is sounding better than the first album, and I liked that one. Gonna listen on the way to work today

Ecnalzen
December 2nd 2020


9724 Comments


Oh nice, a review so we can discuss the things about the stuff

I enjoyed my first listen of this. Have to revisit soon

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 2nd 2020


62856 Comments


Based off the single this is pretty much the epitome of everything I hate about supergroups. Rather than a unique, harmonious presence, they always just sound like the egos of all the different members major projects fighting for space. Also lol Max

Digging: Godfather Don - Beats, Bangers and Biscuits...

Ecnalzen
December 2nd 2020


9724 Comments


I thought they were meshing together better this time around but it has been a while since I gave the first one a listen

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
December 2nd 2020


22315 Comments


Better than I expected tbh, Troy and Greg kill it. Max... he's alright

Digging: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - K.G.

wildinferno2010
December 2nd 2020


1244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this rules. m/

Lichtbringer
December 2nd 2020


475 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

“‘Stairway to Heaven levels of exceptional’ - a middling track within Led Zep’s own discog, okay then. Regardless of opinions that just seemed like a really odd thing to put in a Killer be Killed review.”



It’s objectively one of Rock’s most iconic songs, plus Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures share bassists. Makes sense to me.

DrGonzo1937
Staff Reviewer
December 2nd 2020


16707 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

"I guess it's genre-dependent, but can under 50 minutes really be considered bloated for a metal album?"



this album would have been much more fun if 10-15 minutes were chopped from it



@Lichtbringer



exactly. tl;dr of it all is that supergroups don't work great

wildinferno2010
December 2nd 2020


1244 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I disagree, less than 40 would've been short imo. I think it's a good length. I clearly dig the sound here a lot more than you do though

Ectier
December 2nd 2020


189 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Between this and his solo material Gregs vocals have come a long way since Miss Machine , he sounds incredible on both records. Still dont know if im sold on this though

Digging: Eleanora - Mere

Ectier
December 2nd 2020


189 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Double post



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