Killer Be Killed is a ‘Super Group’ combining the creative talents of four very different musicians with some incredible achievements behind them.
Hoping to inspire other musicians to collaborate and create new music, can a project like this produce something truly unique?
The first thing to be recognised with this project is the calibre of the musician’s involved. Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan), Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Dave Elitch (Ex – The Mars Volta) and one of the biggest names in metal over the course of almost three decades now; Max Cavalera (Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy). That is a hell of a line up!
It’s also a very eclectic mix of musicians, not just a rag tag group of extreme metal specialists but a thoughtfully chosen team with a penchant for melody, catchy hooks, intensity and down right filthy heaviness.
Opening track Wings Of Feather And Wax sets out to establish what you can expect from this album. Jumping straight into a classic Cavalera riff, led by Sanders unmistakable vocals and hammering into a melodic chorus handled by Puciato, all backed by the solid tub thumping and intricate fill skills of Elitch. The first minute of the album showcases four signature sounds all working in harmony and its a very impressive feat. The track itself is a generic yet catchy affair and as it progresses it undergoes a metamorphosis that allows the individual styles of the various musicians to shine through.
Melting Of My Marrow is melodically driven and showcases Puciato’s fantastic abilities as a vocalist while still giving way to Cavalera’s signature bark and Sanders weighty drawl. Save The Robots does a great job of channelling influence from all the members previous works while also being reminiscent of early 90’s Fear Factory. Snakes Of Jehovah has a brutally heavy opening groove which is impossible to not head bang to, I dare you to try!
Each track on the album is a fantastic balance of what each of its creators can bring to the table in terms of style, substance and energy. Puciato’s aggression and melody is present on every track, Cavalera’s solid and dependable metal presence keep’s everything heavy, Sander’s progressive leanings, incredibly unique vocal style and bass noodling’s blend well with Elitch’s explosive percussion, ensuring nothing ever feels to static. Being able to recognise four very distinct identities and hear them mesh together on so many tracks is one of this albums crowning achievements and deserves a lot of respect.
However, the albums greatest strength is also its weakest element. Despite combining these different identities successfully there is a schism involved when listening to some songs. The tracks themselves start to sound fragmented in places as the listener can hear a transition from one artist to another and the blend between them isn’t as seamless as it should be.
This is the danger of a collaboration like this. With little time to gel as a musical unit the music being created is still the product of four separate artists, rather then the combined vision of a band that has written together over time. The fragmentation permeates the listening experience and as you become more familiar with the tracks it becomes more apparent. It is this factor that causes this album to fall short of greatness.
Four high profile artists collaborating in this way is a rarity to be respected and appreciated. Sure, there’s some tracks that go awry here and there, but the majority of what has been created is masterfully written and fantastic to listen to!
Killer Be Killed have shown that collaborations like this can produce some excellent music and I am hopeful that more artists will pay attention and be inspired to do the same.