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Killer Be Killed - 'Reluctant Hero' Album Review


1. Deconstructing Self-Destruction

2. Dream Gone Bad

3. Left of Center

4. Inner Calm from Outer Storms

5. Filthy Vagabond

6. From a Crowded Wound

7. The Great Purge

8. Comfort for Nothing

9. Animus

10. Dead Limbs

11. Reluctant Hero

Six years on from their debut album, Metal supergroup Killer Be Killed, which is comprised of members of Soulfly, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon and Converge, have released their second album, 'Reluctant Hero', via Nuclear Blast Records.

The album starts extremely strongly on ‘Deconstructing Self-Destruction’, beginning with an electronic voice before launching into a Sepultura-esque riff, thanks to the writing skills of the legendary Max Cavalera who, as always, provides rhythm guitars as well as his vocal talents. Greg Puciato, lead singer of The Dillinger Escape Plan, lends his voice as well as his talents as a guitarist. Troy Sanders of Mastodon plays bass and also takes a role with the vocals, and Ben Koller of Converge takes drumming duties. Cavalera, Puciato and Sanders’ voices play extremely well together, providing a brilliant overlay for the riff-heavy groove Metal instrumentals that Cavalera does so well.

The album charges straight into the second track, ‘Dream Gone Bad’, which begins itself with a short but intense build up that gives way to Sanders’ signature vocals in the verse, with Puciato taking over on the chorus in a slightly more melodic turn than usual, before Cavalera comes crashing in with his screams in a brilliant bridge that will be sure to get crowds moving when they eventually tour the album. Throughout all this, Koller (the only member who doesn’t provide any vocals), makes himself more than useful with an extremely solid drum line.

The track ‘From A Crowded Wound’, which is the longest on the album coming in at 7:10, is perhaps one of my favourites on the album. With its long instrumental intro and reverb-drenched vocals, it shows the influence of Troy Sanders, specifically his work with Mastodon, within the band. In places, it sounds like it could come straight from a Mastodon record (which definitely is no bad thing), but adds in new elements that makes it distinctly different and unique, becoming an amalgamation of the bands that made the individual members of Killer Be Killed famous. It's a Prog Metal song through and through, but with Metalcore and Groove/Thrash elements seeping through, particularly in the Puciato-led bridge which ditches the atmosphere set up in the rest of the track for pure aggression, which is then followed by a solo section to close the track which showcases each member of the band. Simply put, I Love it.

‘Comfort From Nothing’ again showcases the aggression that the members are capable of. Whilst Sanders very rarely screams, his voice is so powerful it has the same impact. This song is very much a Thrash track, picking up the pace and giving us repeating riffs that give way to solos and a very short breakdown to finish, it’s pure Metal brilliance.

Following this, however, is ‘Animus’, which is undoubtedly a lovechild between Hardcore and Metalcore, coming in at just over a minute, it provides the album with its shortest track, but it packs so much of a punch that it leaves as much of an impact as the rest of the album, if not more so.

Next comes ‘Dead Limbs’, which continues the high-octane, fast pace Thrash feel, with some elements seeping in from Sanders’ bass lines that feel like Sludge on speed, whilst also giving us some quieter moments. If I had to pick any single song to show someone the diversity in Killer Be Killed’s music, it would have to be this one. Each member is on top form, doing what they do best, and it is glorious.

The album ends on its title track, ‘Reluctant Hero’, a slow burning six minute epic that begins slow with haunting vocals and a ponderous guitar riff. Koller then enters with the drums and the vocals re-enter, building the song in a more gentle manner, building to what you think is going to be a massive wall of sound before dropping off for a few bars, subverting expectations, before everything comes crashing back with a doomy section led by Sanders with backing screams provided by Cavalera. Each vocalist works in beautiful harmony before an amazing solo comes soaring through with Koller giving his all on drums in the background, before everything is left to fade away in a mass of distorted feedback in true Dillinger Escape Plan Fashion, before coming to an abrupt end. It gives us an emotional climax to the album, but I don’t think there could be a better track to end Reluctant Hero on.

'Reluctant Hero', and indeed Killer Be Killed, should not work in my eyes. With names as big as Cavalera, Puciato, Sanders and Koller, it is near impossible to ignore their individual roots (pun very much intended), but instead of ignoring what each member does so well, they bring it all together in a beautiful Metal mish mash of genres that just works. No explanation to it. While I’m still devastated by the end of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Greg Puciato shines alongside the rest of this band, and I believe this is some of the best work these four men have done in their careers, although I do still adore the latest releases from Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy, Mastodon, Gone Is Gone (another Troy Sanders supergroup) and Converge. Killer Be Killed, in my humble opinion, are one of the best supergroups to come out in the past couple of decades, and 'Reluctant Hero' is going to be difficult to beat.

Review - Gordon Rae


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