Supergroups oftentimes grab headlines because they're obviously enticing — on paper, anyway. But the potential of what could be, more often than not, falls short of the mark for a variety of reasons. Back in 2014, however, KILLER BE KILLED broke that mold with its self-titled debut album by hitting the high watermarks of what the component members have reached creatively with their separate, main outfits. The collective now returns with an equally impressive sophomore effort: "Reluctant Hero".
Expectations are inevitably high when discussing a band that boasts Max Cavalera (SOULFLY, CAVALERA CONSPIRACY, ex-SEPULTURA), MASTODON's Troy Sanders and THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN's Greg Puciato to its name. If that veritable list of "who's who" in heavy music wasn't enough, the unit is now joined by none other than CONVERGE's drummer Ben Koller. Each luminary brings his own unique strengths to the table, and their talents merge together into a coherent whole that sounds unlike the output typical of the members' main bands. Perhaps a reason that KILLER BE KILLED proves to be a creative success, unlike many other supergroups, is because the ensemble allows each frontman to make an impact on every song in their own distinct ways.
KILLER BE KILLED starts off on the right foot with "Deconstructing Self-Destruction", a song that rides the crest of a riff that's reminiscent of the mighty SEPULTURA. That riff is the foundation upon which Sanders's introspective, soaring vocals are juxtaposed with Cavalera's rabid, biting vocals as well as Puciato's soulful, nasally voice. The trappings of metal are clearly evident throughout, but on this track and elsewhere, there's an unshakable sense of hard rock conciseness at hand. And there's unquestionably an affinity for pop music choruses shining through "Reluctant Hero", especially on a track like "Dream Gone Bad".
"Filthy Vagabond" stands apart from the rest of the songs with more pronounced punk rock and hardcore qualities. The dichotomy of Cavalera's barking with the melodic vocals of both Sanders and Puciato creates a likable "good cop/bad cop" dynamic that suits the song well and is present throughout the bulk of "Reluctant Hero". Later, "From A Crowded Wound"'s opening chunky riff makes its mark from the get-go. This seven-minute-long song stands out as the album's highlight, and is ripe with numerous climactic, evocative moments.
"Reluctant Hero" is an 11-song effort that's well worth the time of these musicians' fans. It isn't flawless, and it probably won't have extensive staying power. But it's an interesting creative expression that's satisfying and certainly atypical to the majority of what's popular in heavy music these days.