Album Review: Killer be Killed - Reluctant Hero

Killer Be Killed are a "supergroup". This means that the members are a collection of musicians from other already successful bands, combining to create one band of presumably epic proportions. In this instance, the members are a collective stemming from the likes of Mastodon, Soulfly, Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan. A recipe for super-music then, surely?

Not quite.

Reluctant Hero, the group's second effort, is perfectly good, but not the outstanding effort you may expect. It has all the ingredients of a great record, but lacks the fizz that it needs to really turn you on. Despite the band's origins, there's nothing really special about the music on the record.

Opener 'Deconstructing Self-Destruction' is one of the album's best numbers. Heavy and melodic, it perfectly captures what this band, and what heavy metal, is all about. It's a rip-roaring effort that balances the rock with the melody on a knife edge. It's a fantastic start.

After that, you really want to be blown away, but it just doesn't happen. Every song is good, serviceable, but nothing that will make history. Of course, very few albums do, but you expect better from a band with the members it has. The temptation to check my phone to note down which song was playing was not there, so every song just passed by without leaving too much of a mark.

Okay, this is a little harsh. There's a decent double-header in the middle of the album, with 'Filthy Vagabond' and 'From a Crowded Wound'. These songs just up the ante a little, drawing your attention back to what's playing. The former is just a pure guitar and speed song, absolutely tearing your ears off, letting go of melody in favour of just going ham on the instruments. It was sorely needed; the energy of the track kicks you back into gear as well. The latter, however, is a 7-minute semi-prog effort that slows you back down again, but in a far more interesting way than what came before it. Its doom-laden riffs and powerful drums are a stark reminder of the talent that this albums holds and a true indication of what they're capable of when they're on form.

The album also ends with a another lengthy semi-prog effort, the title track. Opening with the lines "You've returned to me as a shadow/You've come back/To fill the empty canyon of my loss/This is not real", it's a poignant tale of a man who has suffered a great loss. A bleak way to close it may be, but it's another gentle reminder that this a band capable of releasing some truly outstanding work.

It's a shame, then, that the rest of the album just passes by like a dandelion in the breeze. You tune it out, entering a state in which you can't really tell when one song has ended and the next has begun. But for those four much better efforts, this would be a much more disappointing album than it thankfully is.

After all, not everything a band releases can be a classic; that is simply impossible. Fortunately, they were able to conjure up some brilliant tunes when it mattered, and as a result, though we get an album that may be more filler than killer, the killers really save it. It is inconsistent, but when it nails it, you'll be glad you listened.



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