5-Minute Record Reviews: Killer Be Killed, The Black Keys and Blondie!


Killer Be Killed

This one-off side project from Max Cavalera (Sepultura/Soulfly) and Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) also includes Troy Sanders of Mastodon and Dave Elitch of the Mars Volta, which is a promising enough pedigree to warrant some attention.

Produced by Josh Wilbur at the Fortress in L.A., the group's first full-length is a focused, hard-charging metal record that doesn't fall into the usual formula that has plagued recent Soulfly and Cavalera Conspiracy releases.  If anything, it seems that Puciato has helped Cavalera get back in touch with the kid who took his love for Venom and turned it into one of thrash metal's biggest bands.

"Face Down" is a fast-paced fury of fists, with "Melting of My Marrow" slowing the tempo at times, but amping up the anger and intensity to create a relentless, pummeling anthem for the new millennium.  Of the album's eleven cuts, there's not a weak link in the bunch, which is quite an accomplishment for an album written and recorded in such short fashion.  Additionally, "Curb Crusher" and "Save The Robots" are enough to leave this writer hoping this side project gets bumped to a full-time gig.


Black Keys - Turn Blue

Witnessing the Black Keys incredulous rise from blues-rock upstarts to global superstars has been anything but boring, but with each platinum certification added to the band's list of accomplishments one can't help wonder who will drop from exhaustion first, the band or their fan base.

After all, when you reach such heights, its only a matter of time before gravity pulls even the most powerful juggernaut back to earth.  On Turn Blue, the duo's eighth studio album, the band seems intent on giving the people what they want, which means keeping Danger Mouse in the producer's chair even though the end result sounds a tad formulaic and safe.  I hate to say it, but there comes a time when all good band/producer relationships hit the wall and Turn Blue captures that moment quite emphatically during the fourth tune "Fever", which sounds more like a Danger Mouse production than a Black Keys song.

The songs that follow, while pleasant enough, start to pack less and less of an organic rock punch and more of a compressed, digital reproduction thereof and you start hearing the same production bells and whistles you heard on Danger Mouse's work with Norah Jones or Portugal, The Man.  That's not a bad thing, per se, until you realize that, left to their own devises, the Black Keys are nothing like those artists.  All in all, the Keys dig some nice grooves on this record, but the ear-worm hooks and ramshackle rock performances are in short supply here.


Blondie - Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux/Ghosts Of Download

While the band would have you believe that it's "all about the music", this two-disc set featuring one CD of re-recorded greatest hits smacks of desperation to remain relevant on the current musical scene.  The idea that the world is somehow waiting for a version of "The Tide Is High" sung by an AARP-member Debbie Harry instead of the smoking hot version that cut the original is the height of absurdity, as is the fact that most of their new album was written by people outside the band.

As for the new album, Ghosts Of Download, this isn't a Blondie record, it's a calculated attempt to hitch their wagon to the EDM bandwagon in hopes of enjoying another commercial resurgence a la "Maria" in 1999.  What they failed to realize, however, is that that success was honest and not the result of trend-hopping.  At the end of the day, great songs always win and "Maria" was a great song.  Sadly, there are no great (or even passable) songs, or collaborators, to be found here.

And to whomever came up with the idea to cover Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Relax", how do you sleep at night?


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