When ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo announced a new hardcore project, this reviewer was on board. When Lombardo later announced that the new vocalist for his hardcore project would be none other than Mike Patton? Well, it's safe to say that it quickly became one of the most anticipated releases of 2017.
But here's the thing with album anticipation - it can often, not always, but often smother the very thing you're looking forward to or at the very least castrate the listening experience.
This is not one of those times. Dead Cross is most definitely one of the best albums of 2017. Brutal and intense. Vicious and combative. This is how all great hardcore can be defined and by these qualifiers, Dead Cross delivers in every aspect.
By now, you probably have (or should have) seen the video for opening track "Seizure and Desist". A black and white minimalist piece of brilliance that's indicative of the album as a whole. Short, sharp and immediate. The album clocks in at less than half an hour, but not a single wasted nanosecond will be found within. Ironically, or perhaps unironically, given the presence of ex-Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, it hammers home everything it's trying to convey much in the same way Reign In Blood did over 30 years ago.
Speaking of which, given Lombardo's work in other bands like Grip Inc, Fantômas and most recently Suicidal Tendencies, I think Dead Cross may be able to put the final nail in the coffin of that ex-Slayer label. Yes, his work with the band was formidable and more integral to their sound than even his former band mates may be willing to admit, to still be playing drums at this virtuoso level at this stage of his career is to be commended.
The addition of Mike Patton to this project can also not be overstated. Lombardo and Patton work very well together as demonstrated in Fantômas. Those familiar with the man know that Patton has very far from a traditional hardcore voice but these same familiar folks should also know that there's nothing traditional in anything the man does. But here, his voice serves the music fantastically well while not losing a shred of what's always made Patton's voice so unique. Cases in point being tracks like "Obedience School" and "Shillelagh". Both are the perfect amalgam of the punch-in-the-face hardcore-style vocals combined with Patton's harmonic range. The difference being for instance in a band like Faith No More, Patton demonstrated the versatility of his voice with each song, but with Dead Cross, he's making that style switch with each line delivered. It truly is a sound to behold.
Rounding out the Dead Cross lineup is bassist Justin Pearson of The Locust and Retox's Mike Crain on guitar. These guys should not be forgotten in all of this Patton/Lombardo talk. They provide a rock-solid structure for the other two to work off and ground the whole thing in a veil of legitimacy, for lack of a better word, in the genre. The great work they provide Is invaluable.
Dead Cross are gonna be doing a lengthy US tour this summer. Do yourself a favor, get this album and buy the ticket, because both are bound to be highlights for this or any year. Don't miss out.