Sound — 9
Very few times in your experience as a metal listener you'll come across a band that has a surprisingly good chemistry in the singers. Sure, some bands boast of more than one singer doing the lead vocals, but they sure aren't Max Cavalera (ex-Sepultura, Soulfly, Cavalera Conspiracy), Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) and Troy Sanders (Mastodon). The incredible thing about Killer Be Killed is that regardless of the stalwarts and heavyweights taking helm of the band, the vocals are the ultimate reward of the album. The three gentlemen sound amazingly tight together, and there's plenty of accommodation in there too. Taking turns at the mic, each and every one of these gentlemen makes his presence felt. I don't mean to sound very fanboy-ish, but the way their vocals complement each other is absolutely supreme.
Sure, in a band fronted by these three well-known names of the modern and classic rock/metal age, the silent man doesn't get too noticed. Unless he's Dave Elitch (ex-The Mars Volta). The dude can play. The dude can SERIOUSLY play. His drums cut through the mix with immense clarity, and he manages to keep the songs constantly pumping adrenaline through your headphones.
Max Cavalera mostly takes the lead guitar duties in this one, and the thrash element is highly prominent. I'm not a huge fan of thrash metal, but I have great memories associated with Sepultura's "Roots," and let me assure you, Cavalera sounds like he's doing a sequel to "Roots." Massive riffage, decent solos, soaring vocals, and as usual, the frequent mentioning of fire and anarchy. Puciato does a decent job supporting him on the rhythm and Troy's bass sounds clearer than it does in Mastodon. Again, the drumming is absolutely flawless, and the mixing is great. Tracks like "Wings of Feather and Wax," "Snakes of Jehovah," "Curb Crusher" and "Save the Robots" are good examples of excellent musicianship exercised by the band. The album has 11 tracks and clocks in at 46 minutes.
Lyrics — 7
It should already be anticipated that lyrics won't be the strong point of this album. The album is more oriented towards vocal chemistry and flawless musicianship, and I got a feeling that lyrics have been generally ignored. Before giving it the first spin I had low expectations from Cavalera (assuming each vocalist sings his contribution to the lyrics), but had my bets placed on Sanders and Puciato. Overall, the general theme of the album is angst at various issues of today's society. There is a general repetition of "fire" in most of the songs; and not surprisingly, Cavalera gives in the usual "arise!", "we are fatherless sons of a nation" and "f--k you and your reality." What I managed to notice were strong references to the current political unrest being faced by governments around the world and the dilemma faced by the general public regarding leaders and governments.
Overall, the lyrics match well with the music, Puciato displays the usual prowess of his throat and his spectacular vocal range. Sanders handles the lower keys, Cavalera handles his growl really well. However, even though the lyrics are nothing stellar, they don't really matter because the album isn't too directed towards meanings of songs. It's mostly three angry men talking of explosives, marching forward, death, and of course, fire.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, I really liked the album. It has a very balls-to-the-wall kind of approach. Dave Elitch does a remarkable job at the kit, and the whole band sounds really well together. The album has been mixed very well, and has a decent runtime, The longest songs has a duration of 5:40, and is called, you guessed it, "Forbidden Fire." The lyrical themes gave the impression these songs would fit better in Mastodon's "Remission." Nevertheless, I'm really glad i gave this album a spin. You won't be surprised to hear the various influences each participant brings to the table as they collaborate. There's a heavy thrash element, a heavy hardcore/mathcore element, a bit of sludge, and a but of prog metal in it: in short it's an album any metal fan will enjoy. My favorite songs off it are "Wings of Feather and Wax," "Snakes of Jehovah," "Save the Robots," and "Dust into Darkness."
I would recommend this album to every metal fan. And I need a new set of headphones cuz I blasted this album through.