By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Back in 2011, Brazilian metal hero Max Cavalera (Soulfly, formerly Sepultura) teamed up with the legendary mathcore frontman/guitarist Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) to bring the music world a supergroup of ferocious proportions. Joining the project were bassist Troy Sanders (Mastodon) and drummer David Elitch (Mars Volta). Together, they became Killer Be Killed, and they slayed the metalheads with their 2014 self-titled debut with Nuclear Blast Records. After six years away focusing on their main projects, they fearsome foursome have reemerged with a new drummer in Ben Koller (Converge), who replaced Elitch in 2014. Determined to assassinate 2020 with extreme prejudice, Killer Be Killed bring us Reluctant Hero.
“Deconstructing Self-Destruction” jumps Reluctant Hero into light speed. This song is driven by the sheer passion of thrash and groove metal coming together with the blistering riffs. Sanders, Puciato, and Cavalera each slay the lyrics they penned together; all the while Koller crushes the blast beat. Killer Be Killed is bringing wild destruction with them. “Dream Gone Bad” wails and rages on the music with tremendous force. Sanders is so soulful on both the bass and the verses, while Puciato stands tall during the chorus. Cavalera is beast on the bridge and with the solo. Lyrically, it is simply beautiful as it gives you hope for down the road. We now jump into “Left Of Center.” A simple groove that is very razor sharp to the ears. Puciato includes a short lead riff after punching through the chorus the first time, and it screeches excitement. This is easily one of the record’s best tracks. Koller’s thriving drums stir things up for “Inner Calm From Outer Storms.” This tune as an alt metal feel to the beat that is similar to the sound of the Deftones. I love how Sanders and Puciato stir up the storm slowly in the beginning, but then when critical levels hit the atmosphere, Puciato and Cavalera unleash the storm with blistering licks and massive screams. This is my favorite.
“Filthy Vagabond” shows off Killer Be Killed’s hardcore punk roots. Puciato goes berserk on the mic, in a style he knows all too well. Koller as an intense flow on the drums, double timing the rhythm with remarkable speed. Cavalera fires up the song with his bombastic solo. The mosh pits will certainly go crazy over this song. Halfway through the album, and we come to “From A Crowded Wound.” It is their longest that bleeds grunge with slow-burning riffs most suitable on an Alice in Chains LP. I love hearing the thunderous low beats on Sanders’ signature Jaguar bass. Cavalera is mighty on the bridge portion, like a lion biting its prey in the jugular. Best part is the smoldering solo towards the end. A church choir hums at the start of “The Great Purge,” and that is when terror begins. Killer Be Killed draws from the inspiration of Puciato’s Dillinger Escape Plan; it just screams progressive metal with ferocity. I love how this song changes styles throughout, never sticking to one style. This is experimental rock run amok, and it is tremendous. “Comfort From Nothing” blasts into the ear canals without warning. Sanders amplifies his singing to incredible heights. This song spins kicks you directly in the face, but refuse to admit defeat, as the lyrics suggest. I can envision myself bench-pressing heavily to this tune.
“Animus” is the shortest song off Reluctant Hero, clocking at 1:08. It is 1-2 combo where thrash and punk rock consummating the union. Nearing the finish line as we approach “Dead Limbs.” The riffs have swift precision, and the singing is very energetic and charismatic, capturing each frontman at their best. There is a perilous glow when we hit the bridge, where Puciato is very sinister and haunting. We are about to come through the tunnel at the other end of the album with the self-titled track. The riff starts slow and simple, and then 2 minutes in, Koller comes knocking in. The song does not go full chaotic as the sound is very controlled. Sanders, Puciato, and Cavalera do a splendid job nailing the humble yet heavy riffs. This is a good song to slow our heartrates down.
Sophomore albums can be hits or misses for groups. For Killer Be Killed, Reluctant Hero displays each musician’s incredible talents, showing that the chemistry is still very durable. Koller fits into this band perfectly as he clangs and bangs a colossal beat. Produced once again by Josh Wilbur, this is a prime example of supergroup excellence, where thrash and groove metal are one. To Killer Be Killed, I salute you. Horns up!!!
01. Deconstructing Self-Destruction
02. Dream Gone Bad
03. Left Of Center
04. Inner Calm From Outer Storms
05. Filthy Vagabond
06. From A Crowded Wound
07. The Great Purge
08. Comfort From Nothing
10. Dead Limbs
11. Reluctant Hero
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