We now have the advent of progressive groove metal. I say the advent because not many have ever dared to combine the complicated technicality of progressive metal with the simplistic riffs of groove metal. Honestly it’s not even something that sounds like it would work. That was until Max Cavalera of Soulfly, Greg Puciato of The Dillinger Escape Plan, Troy Sanders of Mastodon and Dave Elitch of The Mars Volta decided to come together to form the supergroup Killer Be Killed in late 2013. Their self-titled debut album released this past Tuesday brings these sounds together in a way that you literally have to hear to believe.
The album also goes well beyond the metal/rock subgenres that each of these guys are known for. Things range from the melodic metalcore infused song “Wings of Feather and Wax” to the much heavier groove/hardcore/crossover thrash driven tunes like “Face Down”, “I.E.D” and “Fire To Your Flag”. On top of this there is also the furious jazz infusion style drumming of Elitch. Who knew a progressive rock drummer could have such an perfect handle on how to hit the skins for a metal record? Honestly the album probably did not have as many progressive elements as one would expect from a band who boasts members from progressive powerhouses like Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and The Mars Volta. However, the more subdued nature of the progressive sections helps in actually making this odd combination work.
Having said all of this, the unexpected star of this Killer Be Killed is the surprisingly excellent mix of vocals from Cavalera, Puciato and Sanders. They all have extremely different singing styles, but they are able to meld their vocals together perfectly on every single track. Not to get lost in the shuffle is the musicianship, which is damn near flawless, especially the strongly featured bass play of Sanders and the aforementioned drumming from Elitch.
Now I know this sounds like there is a lot going on here because truthfully that is the case. Each member brings their various backgrounds and styles with them to each song. Yes I said each song. It’s not like you get one Puciato style song, then one Cavalera song, etc. Each member is represented equally within every track as tempos quickly switch from the sludge pacing of Sanders to heavy groove bridges ala Cavalera to the metalcore and melodic hardcore chorus skills of Puciato . These tempo changes are done so seamlessly within each song that it sounds like blending them together is something totally normal. I have no idea how they got this extremely weird amalgamation to work, but it does.
I cannot say enough great things about the debut album from Killer Be Killed. Aside from the song “Dust Into Darkness” which I found to be a bit plain and boring, every song is absolutely amazing. The ones that I would most recommend would be “Face Down”, “Melting of My Marrow”, “Curb Crusher”, “Save The Robots”, “I.E.D.” and my personal utmost favorite track “Wings of Feather and Wax”. Each one brings something a bit different to the table while showing off the influences of each band member.
“Face Down” is a down and dirty heavy crossover thrash/hardcore song. “Melting My Marrow” has some Dillinger type verses. Things then quickly jump to crazy heavy grooves that bridge into a heavy, yet melodic chorus. “Curb Crusher” is another extremely heavy crossover thrasher, but this time Elitch’s break neck, jazz infused drumming is heavily featured. “Save the Robots” begins with an awesome sludgy bass open from Sanders with electronic robot vocals. The song then moves into a catchy groove before switching to an excellent prog chorus with excellent bass and drum work. “I.E.D. goes back to heavy crossover thrash and groove metal before hitting some great progressive bridges that once again feature flawless bass lines and drumming.
“Wings of Feather and Wax” is ultimately my favorite because it the one track that is fully representative of what the album is all about. Sanders begins the song with his unique raspy vocal style. The chorus is then sung by Puciato who is accompanied by perfectly harmonized guitars. By the end of the track, we also get catchy groove riffs and loud screams from Cavalera complete with a thrash style guitar solo. If you want to hear a track that melds together three vastly different musical and vocal styles perfectly, this is the one you must make sure to check out before any other. That certainly won’t be a hard thing to do as it’s the first song on the record. The guys could not have picked a better kick off track for their amazing and original debut album.
Killer Be Killed is an album that shows the supergroup’s ability to be original, yet familiar. Unless the band comes together for another album and is able to recreate this chemistry, we may never hear another record like this again. It is so difficult to combine these many differing styles without seeming like one is throwing a bunch of things against the wall to see what sticks. Somehow Killer Be Killed was able to coherently put all of this together and I’m still not quite sure how they did it. To me this would be a difficult feat for them or anyone else to repeat. For those of you who like variety in your metal and are into a bunch of different subgenres, Killer Be Killed will be like a party for your senses. If you are one of those that is a purist or who only likes one or two different types of metal, you may find that there is just too much going on for your tastes. For me, this is an absolutely excellent record with very few flaws that is equally representative of all members of Killer Be Killed. As of now I would consider it to be one of the best albums of 2014.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, you can check out a free stream of the album here. Take a listen and then gives us your opinion of the album in our comments section.