As one of the first full-length records to feature Dave Lombardo behind the kit since his departure from Slayer, Dead Cross’ self-titled debut was always going to have a wave of expectation behind it. Collaborating with Retox and part-time Locust members Justin Pearson (bass) and Mike Crain (guitar) established the intention to make a punk record with some of the wildcards of the genre, while bringing in ultimate wildcard Mike Patton to handle vocal duties meant this would be an album that followed no rules.
Erratic and volatile in its instrumentation and performance, this LP is a brutal reflection of a society as deranged and confusing as the sounds contained within. Opener ‘Seizure and Desist’ throttles listeners with a charge of rattling crossover thrash rhythms played with energy and abrasion. Every note spits feedback and fuzz at you as they hurtle by.
But it’s Patton who steps up as the album’s kingpin, directing the band’s chaos to follow his vocal intentions, whether he’s harmonising over Crain’s buzzsaw guitar melodies, unleashing high pitched screams that condense the power of a dozen lesser vocalists into one terrifying howl on ‘Divine Filth’, or using serial killer whispering to evoke the spirit of Bauhaus on their cover of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, his voice creates a presence that dominates the direction of the band and stops them from shredding into oblivion.
The most striking feature about ‘Dead Cross’ is just how much fun each member seems to be having while making these songs. You can sense the delight in Lombardo as he rattles through blast beats in ‘The Future Has Been Cancelled’, while Pearson and Crain are constantly having to hold themselves back from going full power violence in their excitement. Dead Cross make music that ignites, causes listeners to combust internally and externally then ask what the hell just happened when it’s over. Why would you want it any other way?
‘Dead Cross’ by Dead Cross is out on now on Ipecac Recordings.
Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)