Since its announcement, the members of Killer Be Killed promised many things about the upcoming supergroup project. Max Cavalera, best known for his work in Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, and Sepultura‘s early years, said the album would be a “mix of heavy, fast and melodic songs,” while Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan let fly that the record is “a bit of Sabbath-y doom, a bit of thrash, a bit of hardcore and punk.”
Killer Be Killed is a great example of a supergroup done right, knowing better than to shoehorn all the musicians involved where they don’t belong, instead playing to each of their strengths. Album opener ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ sets the stage to identify each force available here, with every singer setting a precedent for themselves to be established throughout the rest of the album. Followed by ‘Face Down,’ the more aggressive nature of Killer Be Killed shines through, contrasting the more melodic sound of ‘Wings of Feather and Wax’ with a thrashier tone that rears its savage head multiple times on tracks after. The interplay between melody and violence is an important factor in keeping listeners engaged, and no song overstays its welcome, with each track carefully planned to begin and end at thought-provoking and especially considered moments.
More than anything, Killer Be Killed offers up a strong identity as an offshoot heavily influenced by Cavalera, readily noticed by the bouncy rhythms in several of the songs, but doesn’t suffer from the boring and unimaginative lyrical repetition that plagues nearly everything he spearheads. The addition of Puciato, Sanders, and Elitch in the songwriting process expanded the sound greatly, providing some absolutely massive tracks. If you had to offer percentages, Killer Be Killed sounds anywhere from 70 to 80% of Cavalera’s work throughout, interspersed between the other two gentlemen on strings at several obvious highlights on the record. Elitch spectacularly demonstrates his skills on drums on every track, and to spend too many words on his tastefulness would do the man a disservice.
If you’re a fan of Mastodon, you’ll immediately be able to identify the airy, nearly ethereal sounds present on albums like Crack the Skye when Troy Sanders prominently takes the mic. Similarly, when Greg steps up, there’s a distinct stylistic shift that reminds you of Dillinger. It’s actually pretty neat to be able to tell who contributed what and where and not have it be a complete mess of songwriting. ‘Melting of My Marrow,’ a track which features all three vocalists showcasing their strengths, has Puciato leading the verses, Cavalera peppering pre-choruses, and Sanders using his gravelly voice to round out into the choruses, creating a monumental sound. Puciato reigns as the most versatile vocalist on the record, handling both his pernicious screams and lovely clean singing voice as well as anyone could imagine.
Likely the biggest “problem” is that Cavalera’s influence permeates throughout this record too prominently. Killer Be Killed‘s backbone doesn’t deviate far enough from some of the tried and true musical pigeonholes that have been provided to us over the years via Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy. There just seems to be far too much “formula” in so many of the songs due to Cavalera’s hand, making a rock-solid album, but offering something far less adventurous than could have been a truly collaborative supergroup project. What we’re left with is something that is really, really good, but could have been great if the mix had been a little more even.
Killer Be Killed’s Killer Be Killed gets…