Killer Be Killed – Killer Be Killed (Nuclear Blast)

Sunday, 27th April 2014
Rating: 9.5/10

While any assemblage of renowned musicians into a supergroup formation is generally met with great anticipation, that elated feeling is matched only by the inevitable and well-reasoned trepidation: Will the disparate styles mesh or conflict? Will the end result be awesome…or just awkward? Fortunately for the metal community, however, Max Cavalera, Troy Sanders, and Greg Puciato’s Killer Be Killed experiment is worth the wait and should serve as a template for how to effectively cultivate a collaboration of this magnitude.

The deceptively simple approach to success for this record is that each contributor plays to his strengths, but when these strengths are juxtaposed, some truly unique moments emerge. Opening track “Wings of Feather and Wax” is a case in point. The verse riff is pure Cavalera and could easily fit on either of the first two Cavalera Conspiracy records, but with Troy Sanders’ gravelly vocals over the top of it all, listeners experience a whole new dynamic. The verse gives way to a surprisingly clean chorus delivery from Puciato, sounding almost made for mainstream radio, but that perception is shattered when the bridge morphs into straight-up hardcore akin to some of the heavier moments on Chaos AD.

While the aforementioned track stands in singularity on this disc, the mish-mash songwriting style continues ad infinitum, creating a highly unpredictable journey despite using familiar elements. Puciato’s psychotic wailing sounds right at home atop the Soulfly-style riffing of “Fire to Your Flag,” and his droning cleans in “Dust into Darkness” suggest that he might actually be Sanders’ Mastodon bandmate in some parallel reality. Sanders relies largely on the pseudo-psychedelic vocal delivery he’s mastered in more recent Mastodon records, but a few snap-jabs in “I.E.D.” hint that the rage of Remission still lurks. Lastly, Cavalera is always nearby when the listener needs that injection of brutality, although he shows off a more melodic, hard rock style than usual in tracks like “Save the Robots.”

While the occasional stylistic transition is more jarring than seamless, the overwhelming majority of the album is engaging, cohesive, and memorable—a mighty record definitely worth checking out.

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