"Dead Cross"

(Ipecac Recordings/Three One G)

01. Seizure and Desist
02. Idiopathic
03. Obedience School
04. Shillelagh
05. Bela Lugosi's Dead
06. Divine Filth
07. Grave Slave
08. The Future Has Been Cancelled
09. Gag Reflex
10. Church of the Motherfuckers

RATING: 8.5/10

The future is canceled, and the season of the witch is nigh. Mike Patton emerges once more from the dark side of his own blood moon, bringing with him enough personae to give James McAvoy's 23 personalities from the movie "Split" reason for permanent exile. This moment has been a long time coming, it seems, especially once co-founding vocalist Gabe Serbian mike-dropped, both figuratively and literally. Exit Serbian, enter the higher profile—make it plural, if you desire—pedigree of Mike Patton, and DEAD CROSS's self-titled debut album is now a reality.

Call it betrayal or call it making the most of an awkward transition, but Dave Lombardo, Michael Crain and Justin Pearson stood to gain everything by allowing Patton to not only to re-record Serbian's parts on this album, but also to write his own lyrics. While you have to feel a bit for Serbian, who gets erased from a potentially historic moment in fringe music, Mike Patton is the obvious choice—if you're out to crank a fuzz-busting, madcap dissection of hardcore. Thus, DEAD CROSS's unruly 28-minute debut is one to remember; that is, once you get over the neurotic explosiveness of it all.

Opening with the crazed "Seizure and Desist", it's a bludgeoning blitz of sensory overload, one for which you should be well-prepared, even if you dial up FANTOMAS for your nightly tuck-in. It comes fast, without mercy, and with the explicit purpose of delivering a perplexing wallop—and it's a mere primer for the chaos to follow. A few unexpected turns add to the album's incessant anticipation.

For one, the bass-bombed and naturally nutty "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is a cryptic, static-laden harbor of goth punk once amassed by LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH and SISTERS OF MERCY. "Church of the Motherfuckers" is a slithery industrial and darkwave-kissed corner where Mike Patton turns his nastiest chops loose. Here Dave Lombardo's initially reserved tempo soon booms alongside Patton's ravings.

Michael Crain's screeching guitars and Justin Pearson's nebulous bass grooves swell the disturbed mania that has been loosened as early as Patton's rotisserie of spitting, mad monk ohms and lunatic babbles on the hotheaded "Shillelagh". While Patton naturally steals the show as invitee, the band keeps up with his deranged genius—write-off gibberish by damned near anyone else.

"Divine Filth" is not far off in theory from Hank 3's crusty, riff-wrangling punk-downs. Only here you get Mike Patton's unapologetic weirdness and Dave Lombardo's brisk clubbing. Even Hank 3 might be wont to holler, "Holy shit!" at the careening pandemonium of "Grave Slave", ditto for the blazing speed from everyone involved on track two, "Idiopathic". All keeping in mind that Mike Patton is, unto himself, a vocal legion sprung free of Gehenna.

In a way, this is all stripped-down stuff, even with four men going at it. Yet each player resounds within this minimalist combustion, ironically making it all sometimes harder than theoretical physics to take in, "Gag Reflex" for example. Doom, crunk, agro and hardcore, all in succession with Mike Patton dropping at least six different pitches, and corresponding guises, within a conceptually goofy but treacherously navigated hell ride.

When Dave Lombardo is set to his fullest blasting capacities on track three, "Obedience School", the guitars are equal to his velocity. However, all are a mere breeze behind Mike Patton's volcanic bellowing, shrieking and moaning. All the stuff of shock value, but nothing as insidiously foul as Patton nattering on the breakdown, "Wave your pussy on the trigger." Of course, this is the same brother recording his own diarrhea attack on the first MR. BUNGLE album.

Let that fester in your mind while taking this rowdy ride that makes even the Himalaya at your local carny "pussy" by comparison.


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