A few years ago, a very unique supergroup by the name of Dead Cross took form, containing musicians that come from vastly different backgrounds. Mark Crain handles the guitars alongside Justin Pearson on bass, two lesser known musicians building most of the leads and structure. On the other hand, the vocals are presented by Faith No More’s Mike Patton, and behind the kit is Slayer’s very own Dave Lombardo. Don’t be fooled, though; this isn’t necessarily going to match the sound of either band. Their debut album was dropped in 2017, and it’s quite a ride, to say the least. Here, the four come up with an extremely aggressive and experimental brand of thrash metal with some punk influences as well, bordering on the edge of crossover territory. But again, it’s very atypical of any of these styles.
Patton isn’t really known for having “normal” vocals in the first place, but on Dead Cross he reveals some of the grainier side of his range, with high pitched shrieks all over the place, showing few signs of melody, but instead focusing on a vicious attitude. It doesn’t stagnate, though. With songs like “Obedience School,” he breaks off into territories that follow a smoother flow with a grungy hint, while still allowing it to ride with the fast chugging guitars and rumbling drums. Other tracks, such as the following “Shillelagh,” stick it to you with harder beats and large amounts of synchronization between the man behind the kit and the lead guitar sections. Harmonized vocals back this, helping to establish a colder atmosphere and giving it a ghostly feel.
Fortunately, this is a very short release, not even reaching the half hour mark. This kind of music is perfect to ingest in smaller doses, as it requires a lot of focus and a desire for chaotic musical elements. If it were longer, it’d probably begin to grow overwhelming, which is something that brings the overall quality down some, especially for those who really dig melody and strong rhythm. On the other hand, this is perfect for people who seek out progression, weird time signatures, and odd experimental fills. It certainly shows stripped down thrash roots at times too, though. “Divine Filth” is one of my favorite tracks on this record, as it fuses speedy, raw distorted thrash rhythms with legato driven leads. Once again, these tactics are short lived, and it switches gears quite rapidly. In my eyes, this is honestly where the punk roots shine through.
One of the best things that can be taken away from this is that musicians with very different musical backgrounds and a short amount of time can still make for some great ideas. Feelings of terror and silliness are present, making for a thrilling ride like none other. Anyone into weird track layout, thrash, punk, and experimental vocals need to take a few minutes to give this disc a spin.