Metal superband Dead Cross has a serious pedigree to live up to on their first full-length: drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer, Fantomas), bassist Justin Pearson (Locust), Mike Crain (Retox) and of course Mike Patton (Faith No More, Fantomas, Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk). There is a serious expectation attached to names of this caliber. Does it live up to the hype?
It is hard to believe that Mike Patton was not the first choice for vocalist, that honor went to Locust frontman Gabe Serbian. But when he departed abruptly during the recording of the album, the band reached out to Patton. Much like he stepped in on Faith No More’s breakthrough album The Real Thing, the music was already recorded. Patton wrote the lyrics and recorded vocals separately.
The band is elevated by his vocal ability, it is hard to imagine the music without his contribution. From the opening sounds of the emergency broadcast system on “Seizure and Desist,” the album is a nonstop assault. At only 28 minutes, Dead Cross takes only one small moment to breathe with a surprisingly earthy cover of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” half way through. They jettison the otherworldly aspect of Bauhaus in favor of a chunky grounded menace.
It is surprising how much melody there is to be found among the punishing double bass and slashing guitar. Patton moves deftly from crooning to squealing, screaming to percussive chanting all within the same song. “Gag Reflex” even has overdubbed melodies. “Church of the Motherfuckers” is a menacing assault on faith with a killer bass line.
The only drawback is that sometimes there is a dichotomy between the lyrics and the music. They sometimes fit uncomfortably together, showing the divorce of their origin. Let’s hope that on future releases, the band is able to write together as a unit in the studio. Patton exercises his predilection for scatological references to almost humorous levels in “Shillelagh.” “I took a pee and it came out red/I took a dump and it came out dead.”
Dead Cross is on tour now. They will descend on the El Rey in Los Angeles on August 21st. You can buy tickets here. Buy the red and black swirl vinyl here quickly, the gold version is already sold out!
Watch the damaging video for “Obedience School” below. Warning, not for the faint of heart: