Dead Cross - Dead CrossDead Cross play traditional hardcore with metal elements. Simple stuff, really, except under the surface it’s far from simple. Vocal acrobat Mike Patton growls, spits, bellows, shrieks, and unleashes varying degrees of primal and supernatural noises throughout this self-titled debut. Rejoining Patton is bandleader Dave Lombardo, a drummer whose name is introduction enough. Providing the stringed beef is Justin Pearson (you may know him from the hyper-weird The Locust) and Michael Crain. Dead Cross is a supergroup, of sorts, playing a style of music close to each member’s angry heart. All the Patton-isms are featured here: the nonsense lyrics, the gibberish sounds, the medley of singing styles. Lombardo, too, sounds like he’s back in the 80s, playing with joyous urgency. Supergroups are destined to fail though, right? Just like Fantomas sucked, right? Are we about to take a trip into the rotten realms of half-arsed nostalgia, or have Dead Cross constructed something freshly re-invigorating?

I’m happy to announce the latter, though I can see reception to this album swinging either way. Patton’s voice is the most striking feature on a first listen, however, the rest of the band provide strong dosages of aggression and swagger. In terms of production, Dead Cross have chosen not to replicate the muddy DIY sound of 80’s hardcore bands. In fact, the album sounds excellently crisp and dynamic. Riffs mostly circulate hardcore vistas, with Pearson and Crain providing stabs, slashes and bludgeoning leads that frequently morph and shift into either heavier or punkier territory. Of the ten songs, eight have a run-time of under three-minutes and each runs into the next like blood through veins: with smooth, life-affirming force.

Particularly strong are the surf-like grooves of “Obedience School” that breakdown into shards of rapid string-bends, slides, and licks. “Shillelagh,” riff-wise, is completely unoriginal, yet possess a head-banging neck-breaker energy that feels genuine, however, the album as a whole never falls into parody, keeping structures and riff-patterns fresh enough to avoid sounding forced or soulless. It’s not just pure pastiche though: their cover of Bauhaus‘ post-punk classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” is a dark, echoing number reminiscent of doom as it ominously lumbers through; similarly, “Gag Reflex” has an initial sparse, down tuned tone before deteriorating into a rage of noise and grind. Closer “Church of the Motherfuckers” carries a tribal rhythm somewhat reminiscent of the hardcore tones of Neurosis as the bass cranks and pangs with menace, vocals take a sludgy weight, and drums circulate like a frenzy of deranged sharks.

I’ve always been a fan of Mike Patton and he sounds better than ever on this 27-minute rampage. Restraint and tact have been fired into the distance as Patton lets his lungs burst and throat shred. Segments of clean vocals in the style performed with Faith No More make cameo appearances, as do juts and segments of spoken word weirdness. Though it’s the hardcore vibe to Patton’s vocals that are the strongest here, and their unrestrained vibrancy provides grit and power to an album that possesses a lot of force already. The manic quick-fire vocals in opener “Seizure and Desist” morph from punky mid–range rasps into cartoonish high-pitched screams. “Grave Slave” is similarly versatile with Patton decorating the simple grooves and heavy breakdowns with primal exclamations and strange spoken–word interjections. Likewise, snappy clean interjections demanding we ‘destroy everything!’ in “Idiopathic” are placed between ping-pong vitriolic snarls and bellows.

Dead Cross 2017

Patton is loose and unstructured, sounding as if he wandered into the studio midway through a two–week bender and performed vocals in an unconscious deliriousness, and this serves the album brilliantly. Lyrically — from what is discernible — it’s all mostly nonsense: in “Shillelagh” he declares that he ‘took a pee and it came out red/took a dump and it came out dead/skinhead,’ in “Gag Reflex” he whispers “tampax” at random intervals, and throughout anti–church lines combine with provocative sexual imagery. Lombardo is all hands-on deck and his drumming is another highlight. Picture him sweat-drenched at his kit, blistering away with technical fills, grimacing as he taps away at his hi–hats, and providing constant oomph to the sound. The snare sounds somewhat quiet, which is a minuscule shame, but for the most part, the drums are full and interesting. And perhaps, on reflection, they do try to jostle somewhat for center-stage with Patton, however, the album is meant to be an auditory firework display, so their expressive force works.

I’ve had a lot of fun with this one. It clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously yet doesn’t breakdown into parodic, uninspired, or boring territories. It’s manic, aggressive, diverse (for the style) and catchy. With an excellent mix to boot, too, this super-group have proven super impressive.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Ipecac Records
Releases Worldwide: August 4th, 2017

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  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Bloody fucking right!
    Patton is an animal on this fucker!!

    • drug_genosh

      what?! no you haven’t!

      • Akerblogger

        You should see the AMG Promo Bin – faeces and fear everywhere! Dead Cross are sat on a pile of neglected CDs pissing and shitting everywhere. It’s disgusting. Temple of Void have claimed a separate domain – they demand the lights stay off and no-one smiles. Bonehunter are shagging carcasses somewhere in the subterranean level of re-releases and EPs. And Blind Seer…the less we say about them, the better, but let’s say there’s a lot of liquid and leather.

        • First rule of the AMG promo sump: Don’t describe the AMG promo sump.

        • drug_genosh

          i almost feel bad for all those 1’s & 2’s..almost. Never the 0’s!

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Well…..shit their sleeves and jackets……

        • drug_genosh

          i see what you did there and i like it!

  • metalcasket

    Fantastic review. Not to take away anything from the band as a whole, but this album would not be as great as it is without Patton. He’s firing on all cylinders here.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Any album featuring Mike Patton would not be as great without Patton.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        Mike Patton wouldn’t be as good…..oh wait….

      • Serjien

        Amen to that!

      • Rob

        Yeah that’s almost unfair. I dunno, though, I wouldn’t have recognized Pearson’s riffing if I didn’t know it was him. I think that’s a pretty good testament to versatility. I think the combo of him and Lombardo is awesome enough, they’re really tight here. Patton is just the 24 karat gold icing on that cake.

      • metalcasket

        Well, that’s certainly indisputable. I just meant that since Patton wasn’t Dead Cross’ initial frontman, things could have turned out quite differently.

  • Shrümpelstiltskin

    This album is way better than I was expecting it to be. Patton really knocked it out of the park on this one.

  • a glass o’ milk

    listening to the embedded track has me flailing around like the skeleton on the cover.

  • The Unicorn

    Wow, this one brought me out of retirement. Was not expecting this to be so damn good. Lombardo is a lunatic, and so is Patton. Combined, they make…pant shittingly good shit! And…being good gets you stuff!

  • Bas

    This is just the kick in the but music I needed at work. I’ve been listening to the stream online (after temple of void at lunch time). Gave me lots of energy!
    Glad to read the sound is good so i will get the cd (no download code with lp and this isnt stuff i can play at home).
    Good review!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Today’s phrase on AMG’s offices: destined/doomed to fail. Appears on both reviews posted today.

    • Name’s Dalton

      Different from Doomed/Destined.

  • Nukenado

    The music is great, and judging from the video, it probably has some meaning, just indiscernable.

    Hey, at least it’s not Mars Volta/At The Drive-In lyrics.

    • Nukenado

      The lyrics are vague, but all appear to be somehow political or angry against… something. There’s churches, governments, wars…
      Probably means something?

  • Great review. I am glad this is a banger! One thing I have to vehemently disagree with is Fantomas. The Director’s Cut is an excellent album. Their other recorded output I don’t like nearly as much. Having seen them live just after the first album came out I can say that material benefits greatly from the visual of a live performance.

    • Akerblogger

      I was joking with the Fantomas comment – I think they’re great. Obviously the Director’s Cunt, but Suspended Animation is an interesting album. Haven’t actually listened to their other stuff.

      EDIT: Director’s CUT. What is up with my mind today!?

      • Director’s Cunt!! Baaahahahahaaha!!!

  • DR10?! Are you shitting me?!

    • Akerblogger

      Oops, I made a mistake – it’s actually DR100!!

  • Ta2dlam

    Lombardo hasn’t sounded this excited and fresh in an loooooong time. Patton is, and will always be, a force with which all other vocalists must reckon but Dave is fucking killin’ it.

  • Yolo Swaggins

    Reminds me somewhat of System of a Down. I love SOAD. I love this.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian


  • Nola Trash Talk

    I’ve despised Patton my entire metal listening life and yes, I’ve even suffered Fantomas live. Not interested in this.

    • herrschobel

      your loss…and yours only

  • Strapping Old Fart

    Hell yes! What a nice surprise!

  • Strapping Old Fart

    Apparently I’ve been mishearing the Blue Velvet sample on Mr. Bungle’s self-titled masterpiece for 20 odd years. “One fucking beer! If there’s one fucking thing I can’t fucking stand it’s one fucking beer! Makes me fucking puke!”. It makes so much sense, I never questioned it.

  • Mollusc

    Bass seems a bit quiet, like it had to be turned down to make room for all the multi-tracked Mike Pattons. Or is that the point?!

  • Tofu muncher

    Oo another super group. Was spinning this one out, and am not disappointed. Good find, AMG

  • I hate the fact that I’m alone to fail to see the awesomeness of this (and also the DR10 score but HEY, it’s just me).

  • Chris

    Having suffered through one of their pre-Patton shows (the 70K cruise in 2016), I’m thrilled to hear he was able to come in and basically save this project. That “performance” was honestly one of the worst things I’ve ever heard in my life, mainly because the vocalist was an awful, obnoxious asshole.

    This, on the other hand, sounds pretty damn awesome.

  • Aguy

    That album art is mad genius.

  • beurbs

    Wow Lombardo is slaying on this album, double kicks are perfection and he plays incredibly groovy considering how fast it is.

  • beurbs

    It’s hilarious to compare the drumming on this with Bostaph’s drumming on the last Slayer album.