Killer Be killed is a new super-group comprised of a rather impressive line-up in the form of: Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) vocals/guitar, Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Nailbomb) vocals/guitar, Troy Sanders (Mastodon) vocals/bass and Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta) on drums. This may sound like a weird mixture of musicians to collaborate, and it really is, but sadly the music itself is far less interesting than the line-up would have you think, and in my opinion adds up to less than the sum of its parts.
With these members all being very well known in their own right, and the fact that they have all delivered some very experimental and influential music in one form or another, it was hard for me to imagine what they would sound like when working together, and to be honest I don’t really know what I expected it to sound like, but it certainly wasn’t this.
I suppose I had some preconception of it being a very progressive and unique sound, but 30 seconds after sticking it on I found myself in a state of shock (and in fact mild disgust), what I was faced with was nothing more than radio friendly, ultra polished, middle of the road Metalcore. Although this did level out over the course of the album and introduced some more interesting elements, I found the initial disappointment of that bad first impression never really wore off.
These guys are clearly all very talented, and have already proven that with their respective projects, and I guess that sets them up for harsher criticism and higher expectations than I would normally place upon a band, but the fact that all of these guys have delivered massively influential and ground breaking albums during their careers makes its more than fair for me to expect a lot from them.
The execution is flawless and precise throughout this album, you cannot fault the musical proficiency of these guys at all, and there are times when it all clicks that they really do make a brilliant band, but just as often the song writing itself can sound a little cut and paste, lots of brilliant riffs and great sections but just far too many of them, and too many changes make the songs feel stuck together in such a way that it just doesn’t quite fit or keep my interest as much as it could of.
The production as mentioned is ultra polished, it is brilliant production (especially the drum sound) but it really is incredibly glossy for a metal album and smooths off any harsh edges that could have delivered some real punch, which is a shame.
One glance back at the line-up and you will notice that given his current output, Max Cavalera really is the black sheep of this project. Whereas the rest of the band are very progressively minded, Max has not done anything experimental since “Roots” (Which was released in 1996), and I think that is really apparent in the songs . With everyone else seeming to embrace a new sound different to their own bands output, but then max comes barging in with 20 year old Sepultura riffs (and even lyrics on occasion) which either fits in brilliantly, or is just completely unwelcome and breaks the flow of the song, and the balance is about 50/50 on that front. I mean the guy no disrespect but he just can’t seem to adapt to working with the others and just very much delivers the same thing
on this project as he does on anything else he has been a part of.
I know all this sounds negative but it’s more constructive criticism. There is plenty to enjoy on this album aside from these gripes and I sincerely hope they deliver a follow up to this album with the same cast, I just hope it is a more interesting and focused album next time around, but this album has a sound that will appeal to today’s teenage metal fan’s and will undoubtedly fly off the shelves, which means if they do decide to write a follow up to this then I can’t see them taking too many chances on it.
If you are a fan of the members respective bands then you should definitely check this album out, just don’t go into it expecting “The Mastodon Escape Plan From Mars” because you will be disappointed, instead imagine if Greg, Troy and Dave were all permanent guest appearances on an above average Soulfly album and you will be pretty close.
(6/10 Mark Gleed )