Dead Cross ‘Dead Cross’ Review: a stellar, punishing debut from hardcore supergroup.
Hardcore supergroup Dead Cross’s self-titled début (out August 4th via Ipecac) is one of the most anticipated albums of 2017. This shouldn’t be surprising: any band featuring former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and vocalist (and man of a 1000 bands) Mike Patton is worthy of celebration, especially when combined with bassist Justin Pearson and guitarist Michael Crain (both of Retox fame).
That’s a lot of strong personalities to squeeze into one group, but producer Ross Robinson (Korn, Glassjaw, At-The-Drive-In) ably succeeds in bringing their twisted sonic vision to life over the album’s 10 tracks.
Kicking off with a sampled alert from the Emergency Broadcast System, Seizure and Desist is a blitzkrieg of punk savagery augmented by Patton’s bellowing backing vocals, eventually ending in a cacophony of submerged moans that sounds like a whale song or interplanetary distress signal.
Idiopathic shows a tour de force from Lombardo, allowing him to showcase his aggressive chops and ability for insanely intricate and punishing dramatic stylistic shifts, with Patton at his shrieking and growling finest.
While Dead Cross’s end goal is to create an aggressive and exhausting listen, it’s far from one-dimensional: Obedience School adds a cinematic bridge to balance out its sandblaster verse and chorus while the group’s cover of Bauhaus’ Bela Lugosi’s Dead is a sublime fusion of goth, industrial and horror-punk with Patton once again indulging in vampiric themes (see also Faith No More’s 1989 bloodthirsty classic Surprise Your Dead, and his sound effects work on I Am Legend).
That cover is also a shining moment for Retox/The Locust’s Pearson who lays down a sinewy, earth shifting bassline that honors the original while adding a more insistent and aggressive pulse to the proceedings.
Crain’s guitar work also deserves praise, adding just enough metal panache and spidery flourishes to elevate it above genre limitations. Shillelagh is a case in point, with a full frontal six-string assault that ably compliments Patton’s comical delivery of lyrics like I took a pee and it came out red/I took a dump, and it came out dead!”
Grave Slave is another highlight, with Patton at his hyperactive finest: he’s a force of nature, bobbing and weaving throughout the song’s herky jerky structure, erupting in a mix of barks, shrieks and whispers while delivering sardonic lyrics like: blow out the candles on the urinal cake!
What makes Dead Cross such a game changer for hardcore is Patton: his use of vocal harmonies and operatic flourishes opens up a whole new dimension to the genre. That, along with the group’s impressive pedigree, makes for a surprisingly varied affair (all the more impressive given the album runs just shy of 30 minutes).
The group’s diversity and musical adventurism is hammered home by the haunted-house atmospherics of album closer Church of the Motherfuckers, veering from bloodcurdling cries to sonorous, Gregorian-like chants (not unlike Patton’s work with Lombardo in Fantomas).
Dead Cross is an immediately infectious and impressive début that more than lives up to expectations. I would highly recommend seeing them in concert this summer, because these songs should sound amazingly insane live.
Buy ‘Dead Cross’ on Amazon via the link below:
Dead Cross 2017 Tour Dates:
August 10 Santa Ana, CA The Observatory *
August 11 Las Vegas, NV Brooklyn Bowl
August 12 Phoenix, AZ The Marquee *
August 14 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Bar & Grill
August 15 Houston, TX Warehouse Live
August 16 Austin, TX Emo’s
August 18 Tucson, AZ The Rialto Theatre *
August 19 San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park
August 21 Los Angeles, CA El Rey Theatre
August 23 Berkeley, CA The UC Theatre
August 25 Vancouver, BC Vogue Theatre
August 26 Seattle, WA The Showbox
August 27 Portland Wonder Ballroom
August 29 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
September 8 Baltimore, MD Baltimore Soundstage
September 10 Philadelphia, PA Union Transfer
September 11 Boston, MA Royale
September 12 New York, NY Gramercy Theatre
September 13 Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
September 15 Detroit, MI St. Andrew’s Hall
September 16 Chicago, IL Riot Fest *
September 17 Milwaukee, WI Turner Hall Ballroom
September 19 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
September 20 Lawrence, KS Liberty Hall
September 23 Denver, CO Ogden Theatre