Mike Patton has a very special habit of projectile vomiting new material almost every year with either a new band of his, or through an older project. Now, returning with ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo once again, the two recruit Retox members Justin Pearson (The Locust) and Michael Crain for this huge doozy of a record. Together, they’re united as one of the most schizophrenic groups of the year – Dead Cross, who will be releasing their exhilarating debut studio LP at the beginning of August.
Probably the greatest thing about this new supergroup is the fact that all four members have a great load of experience in hardcore punk and a bit of noise that’s been inoculated into Dead Cross’s system. While it’s an extremely disconcerting piece from start to finish, Patton and the boys unleash a whole new world of quality in the shape of noise, thrash, punk and powerviolence all together.
To be honest, there’s no particular standout track throughout the entire run of this LP. Pretty much, any track is welcoming in its own disturbing and abrasive way. Opener Seizure and Desist will sit you down in a deranged and distressed manner, and from there, the whole album forces itself right down your throat.
You can hear Patton using a number of different vocal styles that help give this album an extra flair. In Idiopathic, he starts with scratchy baritone yelling before ascending to some falsetto screaming, with the mixing production taking effect to make his presence feel extra threatening. Grave Slave showcases more of Patton’s vocal techniques in very unexpectedly diverse ways that almost link up to his Mr Bungle days.
The Slayer revisitation of Dave Lombardo blasts throughout most of Obedience School, with Pearson and Crain unleashing some thrashy and really unsettling riffs, along with Patton screaming a series of tongue-in-cheek lyrics like “With your pussy on the trigger, the end is growing nearer”. The Slayer approach also returns in sections of Shillelagh and Divine Faith. To be honest, I’ve missed this maniacally schizoid side of Patton for a while. The side of him that was featured on The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Irony is a Dead Scene EP or even during Moonchild where he would take his voice to the type of extremities no other vocalist could ever reach. There’s no way I could not commend Pearson and Crain for their work on the strings. While I’m more familiar with Pearson as a vocalist for his work in Retox, his job on a four-stringer is aggressive and powerful. And of course, hearing Dave Lombardo back at it on the drums, he puts in a sheer variety of his signature styles into play, from fast-paced to slower beats. He’s even able to make a beat sound so steady, but so chaotic at the same time. Dead Cross’s self-titled is essentially, a ferocious orgy of harsh, noise punk that’s impossible to put down. There’s not a dud track or moment throughout its course. Whether you’re familiar with any of the members’ previous works or not, this is one hell of an easy record to get into. To put it in a Patton fan’s perspective, it’s like Fantômas meets The Locust. I actually had to play Dead Cross over a few times, just to make sure that I was right about it being as good as I thought it was from the first listen. Happily safe to say that it’s easily one of the best albums that 2017 has graced us with.