Ipecac Recordings – 4th August 2017

Christopher Nosnibor

According to the band’s biography, ‘Dead Cross emerged out of a series of impractical schemes, fallen-through plans, and last-minute musical experimentation. Shows were scheduled before a single song was written, fans were formed before even one show was played. The chaos of its creation seems apt; after all, the band is comprised entirely of artists who have thrived playing tightly-coiled turmoil—intelligent dissonance disguised as disorder.’ None of this is surprising, given the co-conspirators who make up Dead Cross – namely Dave Lombardo, Justin Pearson, Michael Crain, and Mike Patton. On paper, it’s a recipe for sonic mayhem. And that’s precisely what Dead Cross delivers.

It’s fast, furious and frenetic from the first bar. ‘Seizure and Desist’, recently unveiled as a video single, kicks it off in spectacularly explosive style and sets both the tempo and the tone. It’s a snarling, furious assault. It’s brutal and deranged, and yet it gloriously melodic, with a chorus and a hook that’s almost chartworthy.

Dead Cross is intense. Loud. Hard. Fast. Mental. Throw Faith No More, Pantera, Strapping Young Lad and The Wildhearts in a blender and you’re in the vicinity.

On one hand, this is a proper, old-school thrash album. On the other, it’s got Mike Patton all over it. Since forever, Patton has demonstrated a unique style and an even more unique sense of theatricality and melody. Unique, in that he’s able to incorporate these elements into the most incongruous and unexpected musical contexts, and successfully. Certainly, his immense vocal range and versatile delivery is a key factor, but there’s far more to Dead Cross – the band and the album – than once man. It’s all about the disparate parts and how they melt together to create something distinctly different. There’s no one dominant aspect here: this is a true collaboration, and all the more intensely insane because of it.

In the hands of pretty much any other band, thrash or other, the cover of ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ would be both shit and pointless. But Dead Cross fill it with violent menace while retaining the finely-balanced drama of the original – and condense it all into two and a half minutes by pummelling it out at a hundred and fifty miles per hour and driving it along with a dirty, gritty as fuck bassline overlaid with heavily processed vocals. The end result is bloody brilliant.

Dead Cross is relentless and brutal. The shrieking venom of ‘Grave Slave’ is a grinding churn of guitars propelled by nonstop blastbeats. ‘Church of the Motherfuckers’ closes the album off with a throbbing chug, and, while slower, brings Patton’s capacity for flamboyant theatricality to the fore, while diminishing for fevered attack not one iota.

Often, I’m given to criticise so-called supergroup projects for failing to produce anything even as great, let alone greater than the sum of the parts. But it’s the fact that Dead Cross have produced an album that is precisely the sum of the parts which makes it such a belter.

Dead Cross Cover

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