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Dead Cross: Dead Cross

Dead Cross: Dead Cross

There isn’t much Mike Patton can’t do, vocally—from a whisper to a scream, as the phrase goes.

Dead Cross: Dead Cross

2 / 5

There isn’t much Mike Patton can’t do, vocally—from a whisper to a scream, as the phrase goes.

From Faith No More to Mr. Bungle, Tomahawk, Fantômas, Peeping Tom, Lovage and many other musical projects (including Mondo Cane, featuring spot-on covers of classic Italian pop songs), Patton has lent his pipes to virtually every genre under the sun—even video games. He grunts, groans, shrieks, sighs, screams, coos and woos. He can do smooth lounge as effortlessly as he can do thundering doom—imagine Tom Jones fronting Slayer and you have some sense of what he’s capable of.

His latest is the trash/hardcore outfit Dead Cross, which finds Patton joining with Mike Crain of Retox on guitar, Justin Pearson of The Locust on bass and the legendary Dave Lombardo on drums (Slayer, Suicidal Tendencies, Misfits, Fantômas and much else). Patton joined the band in 2016, a year after the three others initially joined forces, replacing Gabe Serbian (who appears on one track as a guest vocalist).
The Ross Robinson-produced album starts off strong with the suitably pummeling “Seizure and Desist,” which serves as an effective overture. Unfortunately, what follows is not especially inspiring.

For all the songs’ intensity and the evident skills of the musicians involved, more often than not they are underwhelming compared to the music the band members have made elsewhere. In particular, the lyrics drag the songs down, exhibiting neither the wit nor genuine menace of other Patton projects. Many of the songs seem to rely on similar musical elements, which doesn’t allow for them to stick out, though I enjoyed “Shillelagh” and parts of “Obedience School” from the first half of the disc (I found the latter’s chorus particularly memorable—“Your missing pets are on my plate”—though elsewhere they sag).

Overall, there is a lot of, well, thrashing, but it feels like much ado about nothing without much sense for what drives it. I heard, in a recent Patton interview with Henry Rollins, that much of the music had been written before he had actually joined the band, which is perhaps part of the explanation. (I was also reminded what eclectic, encyclopedic taste Patton has, little of which is displayed on this album.)

After a cover of Bauhaus’s “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” (alas, for no apparent reason), the second half picks up a bit with “Divine Filth,” which I thought was the strongest of the album—the band sounds like it is having fun and the music is more dynamic, reminiscent of a heavier Pixies. Unfortunately, the songs that follow are, again, not especially memorable. Patton’s singing is as powerful as ever, but it is at the service of relatively weaker and more conventional material than he is used to.

It’s unclear what went wrong here. Luckily for us, Patton is such a tireless performer that he will no doubt have a new project soon. Long may he run.

    • Label:
      Ipecac Recordings
    • Release Date:
      August 4, 2017

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