There’s a large difference between embellishment and false advertising. If Pizza Hut were to advertise that they would have cheese and pepperoni pizzas available at all times during buffet hours, and then you went in only to find the crappy blueberry dessert pizza and some old supreme, you’d likely feel cheated.
Welcome to my world.
You see, the Killer were touted as a contemporary to Tragedy, Merauder, and From Ashes Rise, which had me understandably excited. Upon the compact disc release of the Chicago band’s 9-song record, Better Judged by Twelve Than Carried by Six, I unfortunately have to debunk any of those possible comparisons. Whereas a band like Tragedy relies on unrelenting intensity, the Killer relies on tried and tired formulaic approaches. Mixing some tough guy, beat down-esque metal with hardcore carrying a tinge of crust, the band plods through each of the songs like a sprinter who’s lost the race and has settled for going through the motions.
The thick, burly vocals are supposed to be the real driving force behind this attack, and while they’re solid, the sound the band is trying to pull off would require a much more dynamic and much more varied front-man to carry the brunt of the weight. There’s a few instances where the singer does break away from the tiresome approach most often used, but it’s simply too little too late. He’s not the only one to blame for what’s an altogether boring record, however; those issues can rest equally across the shoulders of his band-mates. The ferocious “Worse Than Death” would make for a great template on the rest of this record if they chose to go that route, but it’s simply not the case. Instead of the quick, hard-hitting and cohesive riffs of that second track, they opt for a repetitive, dead horse flogging, breakdown-heavy song structure a good amount of the time. “The True Failure” exemplifies this; after starting out with some quick fire solos, they settle into an uninspiring chugga-chugga rut.
That same rut continues for most of the record, making the rest of said record rather indistinguishable. None of the songs are particularly bad, but it really would be a bit more settling if the band could have offered up some vocal or musical variation. The lyrics are definitely not a saving grace, either, focusing often on trite cliches and bad analogies.
Am I being too picky? Maybe. It’s possible. My expectations aren’t unreasonable, though, and the Killer is about 12 songs short of truly hitting the mark.