On paper, DEAD CROSS features one of the most impressive super group lineups in history. Oftentimes such endeavors fall short of expectations for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the world class musicians use these alternate bands as an opportunity to flex their impressive talents. This may be enjoyable for self-serving purposes, but it generally comes across as pointless self-indulgence. Other times, the output sounds like a bunch of friends got together to jam in a garage, which, again, might satisfy the musicians themselves but doesn't offer much worth listening to for their longtime fans. In any event, it's far too commonplace for these "all-star" bands to sound and feel like side projects and nothing more due to a greater focus placed upon the members' main bands. But fortunately for the heavy music public, DEAD CROSS is everything that one would hope for from a super group. The band seems to have the hunger of a fresh, new band that's eager to carve its own path. The final product—whether we're talking about the debut full-length or the recently released EP, which is also mysteriously self-titled just as the debut was—reaches the high watermarks of the popular, accomplished bands from which the musicians involved are primarily known.
DEAD CROSS most notably features the talents of former SLAYER drummer Dave Lombardo and Mike Patton of FAITH NO MORE, MR. BUNGLE, and countless other bands. However, the unit also boasts the impressive abilities of RETOX's Justin Pearson on bass and Michael Crain on guitar. Both stringed instrument musicians have also played with THE LOCUST and THE FESTIVAL OF DEAD DEER, respectively. The musicians at hand have performed with one another in some form or fashion for years now, and the familiarity surely contributes to how naturally everything flows. Similar to the debut, and what one would expect considering the band's pedigree, the self-titled EP is adventurous, fresh, vibrant and absolutely insane. More specifically, one could say that DEAD CROSS is essentially a modern take on eighties blasting hardcore punk in the vein of SIEGE and LARM that is filtered through MR. BUNGLE.
The only shortcoming with the EP is that it is so short. The four songs extend across almost 13 minutes of material. New music constitutes half of that, since two songs are remixes of tracks from the full-length. It's worth examining the two new tracks closely considering that they are the first songs that this quartet has worked on from the onset. That's because Patton actually replaced original vocalist Gabe Serbian (best known for his drumming with THE LOCUST and RETOX). Serbian departed the unit after recording vocals for the debut that were ultimately scrapped. Patton subsequently contributed new vocals and lyrics that were layered atop the already finished album.
The new material proves to be as frantic and explosive as that which came before it. With great prowess and sense of purpose, DEAD CROSS continues to masterfully control a chaotic, explosive energy. The interestingly entitled "Skin of a Redneck" starts off with a brooding riff that's characteristic to Crain's signature style. One that's reliably infectious and incredibly distinct. Beats that methodically trip over themselves throughout he track, as well as a steady employment of rock-driven percussion, serve to underscore Lombardo's vast capabilities well beyond the realm of the thrash metal he's primarily known for. And, not surprisingly, Patton's vocal stylings and moods span the gamut. Indeed, DEAD CROSS is incredibly diverse and dynamic within the context of hardcore punk inspired music. The following track, "My Perfect Prisoner", is more vitriolic and pummeling as it's steered with a likable, pseudo-black metal riff.
The first of the remixed tracks is "Shillelagh (Panicker Remix) ". This version of the song is filtered through dubstep. The robotic sounding effects on Patton's voice are a nice touch to the fundamental mechanical aspect that is key to the remix. And finally, the remix of "Church of the Motherfuckers (Planet B Remix) " offers an equally unexpected but tasteful take on what was already a completely bizarre song in the first place.
It's (too) short and sweet, but "Dead Cross" is thoroughly enjoyable and a perfect teaser for what's to come from one of the greatest supergroups of all time.