Super groups or artistic collaborations, call them what you will, hold a certain fascination. Riding the risky lines between potential magical genius, wanton self-indulgence or epic failure, there’s also the expectation for some unique identity rather than the safety of simply drawing from a common musical style. Mike Patton (Faith No More) and Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer) each have been involved in numerous projects in recent years. Dead Cross is the first outing for this gathering and included in the line-up are Justin Pearson and Michael Crain, both having played together with Retox.
The members all have very identifiable qualities and the promise is of some very angry music. That promise is delivered from the opening track in the urgency and mayhem of “Seizure And Desist”, where the pedigree is immediate. Twisting with a Voivod meets Napalm Death assault, Lombardo’s fingerprints are all over this. However, it’s not long before Patton seems to firmly take the helm. Vocals that move from enraged screams to an almost mechanical, atonal sneer spit out lyrics full of mocking scorn. The Slayer inspired drum attack of “Obedience School” with the hundred miles per hour riffing from Mike Crain has an undeniable intensity. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”, with some sinister omens building has vocals brought to the forefront for full effect and is yet another left turn in an album that, so far has been utterly compelling.
The sense of rage that oozes out of every track creates a white-knuckled ride where it’s almost impossible to predict what will come next. The fist pumping riffs of “Divine Filth” and the bile fuelled polemic of “Grave Slave” keep the edge razor sharp. Each track thus far has been kept to sub three minute blasts that stick and move until the longer final two closing broadsides. Shouts of “Jesus Police” punctuate “Gag Reflex” which proves to be a wonderful vehicle for Patton’s myriad vocal styles. However, it’s the overall attitude behind each track that is the engaging factor, culminating in “Church Of The Motherfuckers” – a simmering, brooding cauldron of spite upon which Lombardo leaves a final mark.
The term “super group” would appear to be apt for Dead Cross based on this blistering release. Drawing from the members’ influences and their own rich musical legacies, it has an individuality than allows it stand on its’ own two feet; a brash and aggressive statement that will leave many younger bands quivering in their wake.
(8/10 Johnny Zed)