"Dead Cross" By Dead Cross
Hardcore Punk/Released Aug 4, 2017
Supergroups are all the rage these days. Seemingly every other week a new one seems to be popping up made out of current and former members of various bands. The formula of putting together a bunch of star musicians doesn't always equal positive results however. While the various artists may be comfortable and productive in the projects they made famous, working with new people may not go right from the get go. SoCal's Dead Cross however aim to put the "super" in supergroup and have the advantage of members who've worked together previously.
Dead Cross was formed in November of 2015 when ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo approached current and former Retox members Gabe Serbian, Justin Pearson, and Michael Crain with the intention of forming a hardcore punk band. Following Serbian's leaving of the band in 2016, the vocalist spot was filled by Faith No More frontman Mike Patton who had already worked with Lombardo previously in the band Fantomas. With the infamous Ross Robinson producing, Dead Cross released their debut self titled album on August 4, 2017.
While the band bills themselves as a hardcore punk band, the frantic speed, complexity, and diverseness of their sound puts them more in the realm of mathcore bands such as Converge and The Dillinger Escape Plan. The group combines the in your face aggressiveness of punk with a lot of genre stretching curve balls along the way. Dave Lombardo lives up to his reputation with a blistering percussive attack throughout the record while Pearson and Crain create riffs and basslines that go in all directions not only throughout the record but within each song. Mike Patton's vocal performance is equal parts aggressive and lovably bizzare. Vocal harmonies, maniacal shrieks, and oddball lyrics come in abundance and meld together in a way only Patton could pull off and is undeniably the most unique stamp on the sound of Dead Cross.
The band packs ten heavily layered songs into a brief 27 minutes. The first half of the record is especially chaotic with "Seizure And Desist" and "Idiopathic" kicking things off. These songs feature a barrage of Lombardo's high tempo drum work with each track having mid tempo breaks in between that provide a nice switch in mood. "Obedience School" is one of the record's more conventional tracks with straightforward double bass drumming and punk chords driving the song most of the way until the mood changes to a more groove centered feel to end of the song. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" marks the start of the band getting really spacey with the song compositions. The track is much slower than most of the album's songs and holds a darker and more haunted feel to it that borders on gothic. "Grave Slave" might be the most dynamic sub-two minute song put to tape and encompasses all aspects of the band's oddball sound with its tempo and atmospheric changes and Patton showing the full diversity of his vocal ability. "Gag Reflex" is another Patton vocal clinic with the song's more atmospheric nature. It's the longest song of the album at four minutes and twenty seconds but is relatively simple in composition switching between its chanting chorus and more spacey gothic sections which gives plenty of room for Patton to take center stage with the song. "Church Of The Motherfuckers" closes the album out and is another longer than average track for the band with it being over three minutes. While it has its faster sections the song still dwells mostly on a slower, darker mood with haunting vocal harmonies and tribal drumming that fits as a more mellow note to end the album on.
Dead Cross has crafted a beautifully distinct sound with their debut blending together the frenzied energy of punk rock with haunting atmospheric instrumentation. Patton's always distinct vocal delivery leads the charge and his eccentric lyricism will leave many both confused and entertained. The rest of the band displays their adept ability at both technical instrumentation and composition with every track and Lombardo's drumming is the the all-important locomotive behind the band's power. This first release for Dead Cross is a shining example of the quality one hopes for in a band considered a supergroup. And this record is highly likely to be a sleeper hit on many best of 2017 lists by years end. Mine included.