Dead Cross - Dead Cross (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Dead Cross

Dead Cross (2017)

ipecac records

A new hardcore supergroup featuring singer Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr.Bungle) and drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies)? Take my money. 2017 has already been a good year for old guys making compelling hardcore (Bloodclot, FYPM, and Integrity are the first that come to mind), and it just keeps getting better. In Dead Cross, Patton and Lombardo are joined by guitarist Mike Crain and bassist Justin Pearson (both from Retox). They manage to use familiar sounds to create something entirely new. Dead Cross is consistently weirder than Faith No More, and consistently more aggressive than Slayer. These are no small feats.

Honestly, calling Dead Cross a hardcore band is an oversimplification. They combine elements of thrash, grindcore, powerviolence, black metal and even goth. They are propelled by Lombardo’s nuanced but relentless drumming. Patton’s vocal range is also on full display. The variety of sounds that come from his mouth is astounding. There are yelps, screams, howls, roars and good old fashioned singing. The guitar and bass make a powerful wall of noise to pummel your senses. You might feel a little light headed after your first listen.

The first four songs are all fast and spastic as hell. Opener “Seizure and Desist” starts with one of those grating emergency broadcast tones and ends with a lingering scream that becomes something like the sound of a tortured animal. “Idiopathic” might be about how the human race is doomed. “Obedience School” might be about animal rights, with the lyric “Your missing pet is on my plate”. I continue to say might, because without a lyric sheet it’s hard to say with certainty. It might be hard even with a lyric sheet. I suspect it would be a study in the absurd. “Shillelagh” might be my favorite song on the record, and I have no idea what it’s about. Maybe these words are a clue - “I took a pee and it came out red/I took a dump and it came out dead”.

The first relief the listener gets is the last song on the first side. It’s a relatively straightforward cover of the Bauhaus goth classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”. It showcases Patton’s ability to sing in a rich, dark baritone. It really works and is a nice break. The second half of the record is similar. Most of the tracks are barely controlled chaos. If the name Dead Cross has (anti?) religious significance, it comes out on side two. “Divine Filth”, “Grave Slave”, “The Future Has Been Cancelled” and “Gag Reflex” might ponder the point of human existence. Closing track “Church of the Motherfuckers” once again slows things down, but doesn’t skimp on the weirdness.

The ten songs on Dead Cross add up to less than 28 minutes, but it’s still a challenging listen. I mean that in the best possible way. Challenging albums are usually the ones that end up being the most rewarding. That’s certainly been the case for me. Dead Cross is dense and busy, and I hear something new with each listen. (I also start to decipher the words a bit more with every spin.) Mike Patton fans know to expect the unexpected, and will love this. For Dave Lombardo fans, Dead Cross will be more of a stretch. If you’re an open minded hardcore fan (is that an oxymoron?), I can’t recommend this enough.