Killer Be Killed: ‘Reluctant Hero’ Review
Killer Be Killed is a sludge supergroup that originally formed in 2011. Up until now, they’ve only released one album, presumably because the members have all been so busy with their main projects that this band had to take a back seat.
All of these musicians have absolutely monstrous discographies behind them and having them all collaborate together is a real treat. Historically the band has only toured once in Australia back in 2015. Maybe once covid is done and dusted we’ll be able to see these musicians rip up stages across the world. One can only dream.
To get an idea of the bill of talent that I’m referring to, Killer Be Killed are…
- Greg Puciato on vocals and guitars, known for his work in The Dillinger Escape Plan
- Max Cavalera also on vocals and guitars, known for his work in Sepultura and Soulfly
- Troy Sanders on vocals and bass, known for his work in Mastodon
- Ben Koller – drums, percussion, known for his work in Converge, Mutoid Man, All Pigs Must Die, and much more.
I think because the majority of the vocals come from Troy, my immediate aural comparison is to Mastodon. On the whole, however, it’s just a very well crafted package of everyone’s styles – perfectly blended together. It’s full of heavy overdriven sludgy riffs that flood your ears with a river of overdriven guitars.
The somewhat unique lineup means that the album sounds very fresh to me, rather than having the musicians in their own respective projects cover ground that they’ve already previously explored.
As the instruments begin to play, the first vocals we get have been passed through a vocoder. It was a really ear-grabbing moment for me because it’s not something I’ve especially heard in the music from the respective members of this supergroup which immediately lets us know that they’ve all pushed their own bounds of musicianship further with this collaboration. And that’s absolutely reflected through the rest of the album too.
I was genuinely blown away when I heard this first track. It’s everything I’ve been craving since Mastodon’s last release ‘Emporer of Sand’, and to a lesser extent their EP ‘Cold Dark Place’. Hard-hitting punchy riffs backed with crunchy vocals, a killer guitar solo, and a tight mix to pull it all together. Nothing is overstated, overbearing, or pretentious. It’s just good old fashioned heavy metal music.
And none of it is particularly predictable either which raises my enjoyment levels. ‘Left of Center’ has an insurmountable number of key changes, and none of the riffs especially follow on from each other, shifting and morphing as the track progresses.
For me, there’s no point in the album where the vocalists are fighting over each other. Their harmonies and counter melodies are always perfectly balanced between each other as they seamlessly take over the vocal lines weaving in and out of the track. The best example of this is on ‘Inner Calm from Outer Storms’ where the duality of Greg and Troy shower us with their vocal cords in sublime harmony.
‘Comfort from Nothing’ has the best breakdown on the album for me. The guitars in this track sound like absolute filth and I just simply can’t get enough. That combined with the vocals that imitate Ozzy Osbourne’s style of singing
Whilst I do like to enjoy songs in an individual sense, Killer Be Killed have managed to nail the transitions between the tracks through the use of feedback, related chords, and other effects. This subsequently helps the album to just fly by and give it that feel of relentlessness which continues on and on until the final track ‘Reluctant Hero’.
This track is the only ‘ballad style’ track on the album, even though as the music progresses, it ends up being far from it. Starting with some restrained clean vocals from Troy, it builds and builds to an explosive ending. This honestly felt more like a bonus track to me though because of how different it was from the rest of the album stylistically. I think this is probably down to the slower tempo towards the end, combined with this track also being the only place on the album that features any sort of clean guitars.
But even then that’s a very mild criticism because the track still absolutely kills it.
This release came out of nowhere for me. I’d not followed any of the pre-hype, despite being a massive fan of all of the various collaborators in the supergroup. I’m so glad that I came across this project because it’s absolutely taken the cake for me when it comes to end of year lists. Hopefully some day soon we’ll be able to see them play some of this material live.