Killer Be Killed - Reluctant Hero

Killer Be Killed Reluctant Hero cover
Killer Be Killed
Reluctant Hero
Nuclear Blast Records
All these “supergroup”/crossover situations can be either interpreted, as a quick cashgrab or actually an attempt to step out of one’s comfort zone or vanity projects. Some of those have seemed to derail even mega-successful stars careers (skunkworks, 2wo anyone?) but they’re not always that bad… it all sort of depends.
Now, in the case of KBK, it was the chance meeting of vocalist/guitarist Max Cavelara (ex Sepultura, Soulfly, CC) and the singer from DEP meeting up and deciding to tryout a project. They pulled in Troy Sanders of Mastodon to take over bass duties and the drummer from Mars Volta and recorded and released a largely unimpressive but not altogether horrible debut album in 2014. Since then the various members went back to their respective projects/bands and when are converging for a follow up, they needed to tow in the drummer from Converge to make up numbers.
“Reluctant Hero” is their sophomore attempt and this time around they seem to get things a little better, there’s more of a focus in what they do – a little more certainty – like knowing each other as a band member more… more cohesion if you will, but I am afraid to report – more of the same type of generic agro-metal, not exactly thrash or whatnot, not confident enough to go full on pop – just stuck in the middle and trying to keep a foot on each side of the spectrum.
Opener “Deconstructing Self-Destruction” begins with some voco-effected blabbering, but quickly drops the heavy gauntlet of its riffery. The trifecta of vocalists works really well on it, with their different grits and tone, managing to create an interesting difference in dynamics, over a heavy backing track. It perfects the sound the band introduced in their debut and feels inspired.
“Dream Gone Bad” feels rather as an appropriate way to describe the recently passed epoch and shuffles the order a bit, going for heaps of more melody. Being originally a Max tune, his vocal contributions to it, seem like he’s trying a little too hard, but overall this one passes the base...
While the three amigos still take turns on “Left of Center”, it seems like Sanders and Puciato are more dominant in it. The lyric is a rather clever commentary on the sociopolitical divide, but the sort of grungy backdrop with melodic vocals over it, seems to reach its limits, here.
Actually, “Inner Calm and Outer Storms”, the very next song tries to differentiate itself by feeling like someone sliced together a Deftones and a Soulfly tune and just threw in some vocal overdubs to cover up the transitions. It holds together, but barely.
“Filthy Vagabond” has a speed punk feel. Not entirely Motorhead, but not exactly unlike it either. It feels like full on hardcore punk in places, but the more rock n roll touches and soli, bastardize it up enough. While it’s not hard to enjoy, it sort of doesn’t help with the flow of the album that feels like it’s trying to figure out, its own identity and pacing, by this point.
Case and point the overtly long (7+ minutes) “From a Crowded Wound” that sounds like the result of a jam gone in an Alice In Chains sort of way (that heavy grungy melancholy) before the band took over and applied their MO, with questionable results. Other than the opening and the solo, I got rather bored.
And while “The Great Purge” displays a parchment for transformation, through and through, it hardly manages to sound cohesive, a nice lead hear or a good vocal there, not a good song make(th).
“Comfort from Nothing” opens with a nice riff, but quickly falls flat on its back and in a marmite of post Sabbathic dystopia, with some of the vocals totally pushing in that direction.
“Animus” feels fun in its barely over a minute long Nailbomb intensity, but it’s over almost as soon as it begins.
“Dead Limbs” kicks you in the shin – as it begins with its intensity but barely manages to keep its initial momentum going and just drops the ball completely for a weak, poofy middle, before it re-cycles, its intro just as an excuse to last a little longer. It drops the ball and it’s heavy.
“Reluctant Hero” is a mellow song that gets electrified as it goes along and it’s some sort of cathartic letter Sanders wrote to some of his “late” friends. It’s expectedly sentimentally charged, but also rather linear as it grows in intensity and ends somewhat abruptly.
It’s weird to see all these people that were at one point or another as pioneers of their respective sub-genres, going for formulaic ides and not taking many chances… it’s not that they haven’t paid their dues, but sometimes it’s good to know to quit while you’re ahead and not make it all a constant grind as it can become pretty disappointing.
While there are some nice portions and saving graces to this album, it’s hardly some apocalypse, or a masterpiece, as I’ve seen many people claim. And I’d be reluctant to recommend it to any, but the most heroic mega fans of any of the people involved in it as it very quickly loses steam.