Over a decade since the last Fantômas record’s release, drum kit demolisher Dave Lombardo and anomaly of human nature Mike Patton reunite for Dead Cross, a project that brings in Retox‘s Mike Crain on guitar and Justin Pearson on bass.
Dead Cross originally did not feature Patton on vocals, originally starring Gabe Serbian (The Locust, Head Wound City, ex-Retox) as a vocalist. The album was finished sometime in 2016, but Serbian left the group after recording vocals. At the end of the year, Patton was announced as the new vocalist, but rather than releasing the album with Serbian’s vocals, Patton rewrote the lyrics and recorded them independently for the Dead Cross debut we have today. Typical Mike Patton, right? As he does.
Very far removed from Fantômas’ avant-garde flavors, this crossover thrash project violently enters your earholes and leaves just as quickly. Clocking in a mere 28 minutes, only two of the ten tracks cross the 3-minute mark, even managing to toss in a tasty cover of Bauhaus‘ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” partway through.
In true Patton fashion, our old boy manages to sound essential to the music, despite being an independent afterthought to the creative process. Lyrical values vary from downright deranged to unbelievably stupid, which all fit into the frenzied vibe anyway and, moreover, fit the schema for the genre and for Patton himself.
The music Lombardo, Crain, and Pearson wrote with Serbian reeks of the old school thrash punk made popular by early Anthrax and Suicidal Tendencies and kept alive today by acts such as Municipal Waste and Gama Bomb, sometimes decelerating in potency to once again come back for another series of blasts. Much-needed reprieves in “Obedience School’s” ending and “Seizure and Desist’s” haunting outro, “Church of the Motherfuckers” as a slow burn ending, as well as the entirety of the aforementioned “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” cover break up the frantic riffing from all other directions.
In such a short listen, it’s hard to fault Dead Cross for anything, really. It comes, does what it’s meant to do, and leaves without a thought beyond its intention. Across 28 minutes, you manage to explore nearly every aspect of crossover thrash that’s stayed alive for the last 30-odd years, from a feedback intro to a sludgy ending track and every major, maniacal musical landmark in between. Honestly, Dead Cross is pretty perfect in execution. The only thing we could hope for in another Dead Cross release, should it ever come, would be for a greater Patton involvement in the creative process—it might be the closest thing we get to another release like The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s Irony is a Dead Scene.
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Dead Cross’ self-titled album will be available on August 4th, 2017 through Ipecac Recordings’ Bandcamp page.