By Chris Zuver, A and E Editor
In case you did not know, hardcore/metal supergroup Dead Cross released their self-titled debut album on August 4. Much hype had been generated around the band since last December, when their former vocalist was replaced by rock veteran Mike Patton. Now that the album is out, it seems clear that while much of the hype was justified, the album does not quite match the degree of excitement that had been simmering around the community.
The album is a testament to hardcore, punk, metal, and even some elements of industrial rock. Most songs are less than three minutes, following the tradition of hardcore punk.
The quartet consists of members from high-profile music backgrounds. Most notably, Mike Patton, who has been the front man for various bands such as Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, and Fantomas. Meanwhile, on drums is Dave Lombardo, who most notably played for many years in the thrash metal band Slayer, and also worked with Patton in Fantomas. On guitar is Michael Crain, founder of the band who hails from hardcore group Retox. Last, but not least, is Justin Pearson on bass, who has had a history in Retox as well as grindcore/noise rock band The Locust.
The album starts with “Seizure and Desist,” which begins with mixed noises of digital sounds before opening into a barrage of fast-paced blasting drums and heavy guitars. The vocals switch between larger-than-life melodic chants and angry screams and screeches.
One of the repeating themes in the album is, well, repetition. While the LP never lets up in its ferocity and its blatant dark atmosphere, it often repeats chants and passages throughout. For instance, in one of the relatively slower tracks, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” lines like “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” and “Undead, undead, undead,” make up a good portion of the lyrics. This does not detract from the album, but it takes away from diversity. However, that’s not what this album is about.
It seems that the aim of Dead Cross’ debut is aggression, attitude, and shock value more than anything else. The bass is driving, the drums are threatning, and the guitar is chaotic, often deviating into unmelodic territory.
The lyrics, meanwhile, are vaguely political and crude, often containing slurs, sexual messages, and scenes of violence. They remind me exactly of the type of musical content that Tipper Gore and the PMRC were so upset over in the 80’s. Yet, for fans familiar with vocalist Mike Patton, these crude passages won’t be anything new. The former vocalist has had a long history as a provocateur both in lyrics and performance.
Overall, the album works best as a whole. The tracks can be appreciated separately, yet since they’re brief, they’re more effective together. Obviously, many people who check out this album will be fans of the member’s past work, and they will not be disappointed. However, don’t expect this to be a continuation of the members’ past projects. Dead Cross is its own beast with a unique nature. However, that nature often repeats itself, making for a fun listen, but not for every day.