Killer Be Killed (CD)
The title “Super Group” has been thrown around so many times over the years that it really has lost its ring. However, when you are talking about members of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon, Soulfly, and The Mars Volta – metal fans have a reason to listen up and celebrate. Brutal and often beautiful, Killer Be Killed’s self-titled debut on Nuclear Blast hits hard like a ruthless thug and doesn’t let up until the listener has been thoroughly pummeled. In the hands of Max Cavalera (guitars & vocals), Greg Puciato (guitar & vocals), Troy Sanders (bass & vocals), and David Elitch (drums), the songs pulse and command repeat listening.
What struck me right away as a big plus throughout was the three vocal approach. I really dug hearing each distinctive style working in twisted harmony – literally side-by-side, weaving in and out of each song. It keeps the listener guessing while also engaged in a refreshing way.
Though possibly not as evident from a first listen, there is much at work on this dense collection of thrusting rockers, where the old-school doom metal charges forward evenly with elements of punk and thrash/hardcore. Things start off especially strong with the thrust and slam of “Wings of Feather And Wax” and don’t let up at all as the band skids right into “Face Down”. The band seems completely comfortable mixing up tempos and textures and the songs shine that much more for these various attentions to detail. For instance, “Melting of My Marrow” has some extremely potent riffs and accents but flourishes triumphantly in places under the weight of these subtle switch-ups. “Curb Crusher”, which might just be one of the strongest songs in the set, is like 3 or 4 fierce little jam ideas held together by barbed wire and a swarm of bees.
It’s not hard to hear some definite influences – I dare you to take in the swamp beginning of “Dust into Darkness” and not think Black Sabbath – but that really just makes the gathering that much more rewarding.
The production was handled by Josh Wilbur who has worked with everyone from Lamb of God to Steve Earle and the sound is dense without being claustrophobic – loose without being too chaotic. I’m a big fan of industrial edge and layered metal-machine, NIN-like touches and really enjoyed discovering these peppered here and there. The opening bars of “Snakes of Jehovah” and the middle section of “Save the Robots” are excellent examples.
There are a few mis-steps. “Twelve Labors” doesn’t seem quite on the same high-caliber as this striking set and there are a few times that the progressive Mastodon-ish drone drags things down a bit but, over-all, there isn’t much to complain about.
There are talks of a brief North America tour in 2015 but nothing has been nailed down. In the meantime, this anticipated release will have to suffice – in spades.
Grade: B [Nuclear Blast] Robert Allen Ankrom