RSS Feed

Dead Cross

Ipecac Recordings / Three One G (2017)
Rating: 8.5/10

Dead Cross formed in 2015 and featured guitarist Mike Crain (Retox), drummer Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer / Suicidal Tendencies), bassist Justin Pearson (The Locust / Head Wound City / Retox) and vocalist Gabe Serbian (The Locust / Head Wound City / ex-Cattle Decapitation). An album was recorded but not released, and so when the versatile Mike Patton was recruited in December 2016 he added his own lyrics and re-recorded the vocals. The result is this absolute blitzkrieg of a debut record.

As we know, Patton as a vocalist is impossible to pigeonhole and his colourful career remains unique, from fronting artists as diverse as Mr. Bungle to Peeping Tom, and from Faith No More to Fantômas. No surprise then that Dead Cross’s debut opus is the usual chaotic, frenzied and maniacal journey which some would try to pin down as “hardcore punk”, but it would take a fool to try to categorise this hysterical, spasmodic and above all, energetic record that epitomises what Patton is all about.

Mike Patton’s screeches quickly cavort with that more noticeable nasal whine, and then the next he’s in epileptic quacking mode before quickly giving way to a spit-filled throat blast that is punctuated by an eerie moan. So, in all of his unpredictability Patton still gives us what we expect; rampant, violent outbursts accompanied by wondrously catchy melodies that are aided by raucous, jarring, frenzied percussive blasts which in turn copulate with a wall of orgiastic bass fuzz and grinding, punkoid guitar gymnastics.

Of course, there are times when you realise that headbanging is pointless, because just when you are about to get caught up in a hostile mosh stomp there comes an almost schizophrenic jazz flip-out which transforms into a bewildering grind. It’s just brilliant stuff, throwing at us a catchy curveball before hammering us to death where hints of Mr. Bungle’s zany antics come to the fore. I appreciate this more on a mental workout such as ‘Idiopathic’, whereas ‘Obedience School’ is an out and out speedball of a track; a thrashcore barrage of hyper drums and maniacal chords. Patton quickly shifts from punk vocaliser to a more harmonious hum, but all the while the backdrop of sound is a hasty thrash cocktail.

Opener ‘Seizure And Desist’ is a thrashing expression, but such is the variation within that wall of sound that I feel as if I’m transported back to the early 90s – a time when heavy metal and extreme music was really branching out. The term “extreme” brought with it injections of the industrial, as well as choppy raps, and jazzed up menace the likes of which John Zorn implemented.

And that type of manic menace is what the album is about, typified with the hectic ‘Shillelagh’ with its hardcore slams. Or you could pick out the sepulchral cover of Bauhaus’ ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ with its surreal Goth gruel. Meanwhile, the madness continues with the choppy fizz of ‘Divine Filth’, the squawking hostility of ‘Grave Slave’ and the thrash hurl of ‘The Future Has Been Cancelled’.

There’s no let up from the speed or bruising segments whereby the drums hammer like hail and work in tumultuous tandem with Mike Crain’s destructive rumbles. As a guitarist Crain owns the record, his driving yet unpredictable avenues churning like some industrial cog about to come off its hinges as the chords delve into the sinister cesspits in order to work in cohorts with Patton’s tortured wails.

‘Gag Reflex’ plunders darker depths; a stranger, surreal, and fuzzed out unearthly corner that becomes a chunky hardcore fist to the face, while ‘Church Of The Motherfuckers’ brings the album to a close with an orgy of Dave Lombardo’s hellish pounding as Patton narrates over a Gothic, swirling backdrop of jarring instrumentation which eventually builds to a spinning of quizzical chords and maniacal bass trickles. But there’s always a surprise in store as we turn another corner and the combo resorts to a seedy, lo-fi rumble – Patton drifting into Japanese vocalist Yamantaka Eye (Naked City) territory with his yaps and barks.

And that’s where this record sits. Not as one of Mike Patton’s most disjointed or crazy records, but one which is still tinged with that expected madness. Above all though, it’s a fast, freaky and frothing ride and I can’t wait for more.

Neil Arnold

<< Back to Archive News
<< Back to Latest News

Related Posts via Categories