Rating – 4/5
‘Reluctant Hero’ is the latest offering from heavy metal supergroup Killer Be Killed. They are veterans of their own respective groups (The Dillinger Escape Plan, Sepultura, Converge and Mastodon), not to mention individual collaborations with rock and metal groups too numerous to name; chances are one of these guys will have had a hand in the production or composition of some of your favourite metal tracks at some point over the past 20 years
I’m a huge fan of the institution of the supergroup; and why not? There’s something magical about your favourite musicians coming together and flexing their creative muscles in a completely new environment and judging by history, the results are usually very good.
Drawing from a deep well of experience and genres across the heavy metal spectrum, Killer Be Killed’s sound reflects their varied influences. The record is heavily melodic across the board, but incorporates elements of thrash and hardcore punk.
Having three supremely recognisable metal vocalists plays in the albums favour, there’s plenty of opportunity for snarling calls and low growling responses across the record as Troy, Max and Greg show off the vocal chops that have made them staples of the metal scene. Similarly there are long melodic vocal lines that cut across the ambient distortion underneath, the performances are great and what’s more their distinctive styles never feel shoehorned in; they’re all made to work together.
Tracks like ‘Animus’ and ‘Filthy Vagabond’ are frenetic, high-tempo thrash/ punk offerings that slot in nicely amongst the more ponderous material. ‘From a Crowded Wound’ for example is a dark, winding 7 minute track that incorporates elements of metalcore and features sonorous vocals with powerful screams.
‘The Great Purge’ starts with a bleak choral swell, and mixes elements of industrial music throughout; featuring an understated synth sounding motif which breaks up the track nicely in the pre-chorus.
The album rounds off with the title track ‘Reluctant Hero’ which showcases a nice dynamic range; from low resonant vocals with a sparse guitar melody. It slowly builds and gives way to a full throated power metal ballad.
Whilst the compositions themselves can vary greatly throughout, the sense of separation is never too jarring that you get lost during a track it’s a testament to the overall songwriting quality and of course production that allows for this. From high energy crowd pleasers to more exploratory material, the execution is great throughout; the production choices suit the songs.
‘Reluctant Hero’ is a polished and highly listenable record, the genesis of musicians all with real metal pedigrees and CVs as long as your arm you’d expect no less.
Review by Theo Wildgoose