Killer Be Killed
Reluctant Hero

“Can the whole, be greater than the sum of it’s parts?”

This is, essentially, the question we all ask any time it comes to judging the newest supergroup. Can a group of known, accomplished musicians and artists come together to create something new and even better than the work they’ve already known and been judged for? Personally, I feel that whole thing to be unfair, especially when the supergroup in question has a combined history of such legendary acts such as Sepultura, Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan, and Converge. That’s a lot of fucking pedigree!

So maybe expecting something “better” is just unreasonable. That all being said, however, Killer Be Killed set themselves up for some unprecedented expectations their self-titled debut, an album regarded by many as one of the finest efforts ever recorded by a supergroup – up there with the likes of Bloodbath and Down. I don’t know about all of that, but Killer Be Killed was a damn good album.

One thing that seemed to separate KBK from other supergroups was the success they found in blending all their distinct past influences together into an altogether new sound, every piece taking turns at center stage while ultimately creating something that was weirdly cohesive – and the trend continues here with Reluctant Hero. The band comes storming out of the gate with the crushing, upbeat “Deconstructing Self-Destruction,” wasting no time at all to put all three vocalists (Mastodon’s Troy Sanders, ex-Dillinger’s Greg Puciato and the immortal Max Cavalera) on display, all three making a vocal appearance before the album even reaches a minute in. They know this is the band’s defining feature, and they’re more than happy to let it ride. And once again, the band allows everyone’s background to come out and get some time in the spotlight on the track – Mastodon’s hefty groove and later-Dillinger’s catchy, more accessible tendencies both coming in clearly. But perhaps my favorite part of KBK is hearing Cavalera come alive with some of the sounds and ideas that tend to fall a little flat with Soulfly, finding greater purchase with this group of musicians backing him up. Take the breakdown 2:10 into second track “Dream Gone Bad” for instance – it’s a pure modern-day Cavalera riff, but somehow it just hits with a greater impact than I would otherwise expect. Same thing on the speedy, bruising “Filthy Vegabond.” You know those riffs would fit in just fine on a new Soulfly track, but somehow with this band’s backing and delivery, it’s just… different.

The band is bringing some other outside influences into the fold as well – in particular a number of instances where I swear I’m listening to a new Deftones track (“Inner Calm From Outer Storms,” and especially on “The Great Purge”). It’s a sounds that was somewhat present on their debut, but has been turned up a notch this time around, giving a moody, atmospheric respite from what’s mostly an intense, burly affair – and the end result is a far more balanced record. But even on the bruisers, the band continues to deftly change up the pace – from the slower, more plodding “Comfort From Nothing” and “From a Crowded Wound,” to absolute barn-burners like “Animus,” the band keeps the album from ever getting stale or singlularly-paced. It takes a sure hand and steady backbone to keep so many ideas flowing together, and shout-out to drummer Ben Kollar for expertly laying the groundwork and keeping a solid-as-stone foundation for the rest of the band to cook upon. Blasts, D-Beats, tribal rumblings, he’s got the answer for whatever the band dreams up and it all fits silky-smooth.

So, do I think the whole package is greater than the sum of it’s parts? Fuck, I dunno. It’s nearly impossible not to take the individual ingredients into consideration on a project like this, but lucky for me and the metal-loving world, the band delivers yet another super-solid album that stands just fine on it’s own apart from it’s creator’s collective histories. I’m not going to put this record on a mantle for all to bask in it’s eternal glory. It’s not necessary. Instead, I’ll encourage you to go ahead and just enjoy a really good record because it’s a really good record, regardless of who’s involved.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
November 16th, 2020


  1. Commented by: Chris

    I really liked the debut. And I thought it was weird it kind of came and went for most people. It’s good to hear the new one is in a similar vein quality-wise. I agree about the blend being somewhat unique and cohesive.

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