Sound — 8
Some time in 2011, Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan) and Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly) began discussing working on a project together and slowly brought Troy Sanders (Mastodon) and Dave Elitch (The Mars Volta) into the fold. Without even having a name for their project they entered the studio in late 2013 and recorded this full-length album, afterwards coming up with the name, Killer Be Killed, and setting a release date for the album with their label, Nuclear Blast. There are 11 tracks on the album, but if you can get your hands on the vinyl version there is a bonus track called "Ghosts of Chernobyl" that I'd love to hear. The 11 tracks have a total runtime of about 45 minutes. The track "Wings of Feather and Wax" was released as the first single in early April.
The album opens up with the single "Wings of Feather and Wax" and the vocals early in the track sound a lot like Lemmy to me initially - it was tripping me out because I was wondering if Lemmy was making a guest appearance on the album (which would have made it even more awesome, but no complaints as-is). The track is definitely fast and aggressive, but still with a lot of melody. There is just a dash of the dissonance that The Dillinger Escape Plan uses in their own material to such great effect, but it goes well with what everyone else has brought to the table. "Face Down" is next up, and it opens up with a serious drum-line and a cool hook-y guitar riff and everybody sharing vocal duties on this track. "Face Down" really seems to start out as a certain type of track, but closes out a lot like a different type of track - not saying it is "proggy," but it is something different. "Melting of My Marrow" has a very melodic guitar line that caught my attention and some interesting clean vocals (I think that is Troy Sanders?). Really, the riffs on "Melting of My Marrow" seem a whole lot like what you would expect Max Cavalera and Greg Puciato to write together as it has elements of both clearly audible. "Snakes of Jehova" has a lot of energy right out of the gate and kind of "reboots" itself at about one minute in. This track has some of the more aggressive vocals to it, and musically is pretty much straight aggression! There is some serious double bass pedal going on with some tremolo picking during passages of the song that makes my pulse go up just hearing it. "Curb Crusher" is heavy on groove and just f--king heavy, too. Just to skim over the rest of the album, it is of course stays very heavy, fast, and melodic. There are continuing bits of dissonance mixed in with some seriously catchy riffs and the vocal mix is immaculate. "Save the Robots" has a neat little effect going on that sounds a little bit like a robot voice. "Fire to Your Flag" has some of the heaviest drums on the album, and some interesting tremolo picking as well. "I.E.D." is trying to do a lot of different things, and oddly enough seems to really pull it off. "Dust Into Darkness" is one of the slower, more groove-laden tracks on the album. "Twelve Labors" is possibly the most "chug-heavy" tracks on the album, and plays with melody and dissonance a lot. There is also a trippy segment of the song that is very clean with some tribal-sounding percussion going on. "Forbidden Fire" opens up with a neat little bass riff and some seriously processed vocals with some weird delay stuff going on with it. "Forbidden Fire" does get heavy for brief moments, but it is more like something you would expect from a band like The Doors if they were a modern day prog metal band.
Lyrics — 9
While Greg Puciato may have the lion's share of the vocals by a small margin, there are also a good deal of vocals provided by Max Cavalera and Troy Sanders. I love the mix, because each has their own approach to vocals and it seems like they each bring something unique and valuable to the table from a vocal standpoint. From the interviews with the band I've read the lyrics were written in a spirit of collaboration between Greg and Max early on and then when Troy came into the mix, he began writing lyrics with them as well. The lyrics are a lot better than you get from a lot of metal bands, but I mean hey what do you expect - you have three artists from bands whose lyrics are more intelligent than average working together.
Overall Impression — 8
I got caught up in the band's story about coming together, with some of my favorite bits is a story about Troy meeting Max Cavalera for the first time. At the time, Troy had already been invited into the project (later to be called Killer Be Killed) by Greg Puciato while The Dillinger Escape Plan was touring with Mastodon. Later on Troy and Max were playing at the same event or festival and Troy went up to Max and introduced himself with the line, "Hey, I'm Troy. I think we're in a band together." The band claims they had instant chemistry with each other and listening to the album I can believe it. It is easy on the spot to get caught up and say something like "Oh, this is my favorite metal release so far this year," so I won't say that yet, but I have to say I'm really loving where this is coming from and how each member's influences are cooked into their sound. My favorite tracks are "Forbidden Fire," "Fire to Your Flag," "Dust Into Darkness" and "Melting of My Marrow." I look forward to more from this supergroup, because whatever they're doing is working.