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Album Review: Worship at the DEAD CROSS

Saturday, August 26, 2017 | Album Review

Anyone familiar with Mike Patton’s work knows that this vocalist always pops up where you don’t expect him. When the man with a thousand bands isn’t scoring a genre feature (i.e. A PERFECT PLACE, CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE) or recording monster voiceovers (THE DARKNESS video-game franchise, I AM LEGEND), he is plotting something weird. Whether it’s his most popular outfit (the reunited Faith No More), his alt-Americana trip with guys from Helmet and The Jesus Lizard (Tomahawk) or something more pop-oriented (Peeping Tom) or orchestral (Mondo Cane or his Kaada collaboration; see RM #167), Patton goes all in with every single project he’s involved with.
Patton has been kind of tight-fisted on more aggressive releases lately; can you believe it has already been a dozen years since the latest meta-avant-metal Fantômas record? If you’ve been craving some bleak mind tricks à la Patton (and we know you are), the self-titled debut album from Dead Cross (dropping this Friday from Ipecac Recordings), his most recent gang of misfits, might just be the fix you need.
Here, he’s back with his Fantômas alumnus, the mighty Dave Lombardo (ex-Slayer, Philm, Suicidal Tendencies). Rest assured, the polyvalent yet relentless drummer is in great form, driving the RPMs at 11 most of the time. An exception is their exquisite rendition of Bauhaus’ immortal classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” delivered slowly on the gloom-and-doom side of things, and expertly placed right in the middle of the track lineup, just in time to let the listener catch his fetid breath.
Remember that Patton stint as The Dillinger Escape Plan’s singer? Well, he channels his darkest energy for the Dead Cross record too, just like he did in 2002 for the IRONY IS A DEAD SCENE EP. And God, does it feels awesome to hear him that angry again. Shrieks, crooning, growls, whispers et al. However, don’t expect anything other than Patton’s vocal prowess; there are no keys or bleep-machines to be found here.
In all, this is raw, hardcore stuff. Not surprising, given that he has two bros from Retox on board, guitarist Michael Crain and bassist Justin Pearson; the latter is one of those costumed maniacs from The Locust as well. Of course, there’s no NYHC going on, or anything from DC on the pan, even if most servings clock around the two-minute mark. Rather, we’re talking about crushing, full-blast beats, blackened riffs and screams-and-mantras-type chants, as well as low frequencies aplenty. Crust punk meets speed-freak metal on a postapocalyptic killing field—see what we did here?
Eric Livingston’s marvelously sinister cover art is just the cherry on top (love that psychedelic skeleton!), and Ipecac has knocked it out of the park with a coating that glows in the dark. Sit down, press play and enter a banging, hopeless world, where the only light is some bony motherfucker. Forget about anything you think you know. Better put on your baddest mood: these tight-as-a-rat’s-ass, seizure-inducing 28 minutes are not smooth. Hell no. Crude. Rude. Lewd. With no lube. One thing is for sure: This is Dead Cross’ soundtrack to the upcoming Rapture.