Mike Patton has never fronted a band like this.
The Faith No More frontman, known by most of the populace alive in the 80s and 90s for a rap-rock song about masturbation (the epic “Epic”), has been at the helm of some pretty aggressive groups. His time in Fantomas and his EP providing vocals for The Dillinger Escape Plan should give him street cred in that regard. But Dead Cross is a different beast.
A punk outfit in a slightly more traditional sense than Fantomas (I use that phrase with hesitation), the quartet borrows from its forebears on its Ipecac debut – particularly guitarist Justin Pearson’s time in The Locust and drummer Dave Lombardo’s tenure with Slayer. But anyone expecting a mash-up of Plague Soundscapes by way of “Rain In Blood” will be disappointed. The LP slashes and burns, and leaves plenty of scorched Earth, but it is nowhere as bombastic or explosive as either of those bands. Instead, Patton and company (the band is filled out by Michael Crain of Retox on bass) stew a throttling mix of punk and hardcore, with the occasional diversion into more textured terrain (the catchy “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”).
Songs like “Grave Slave” are blistering stuff, thanks in part to Patton’s shrill caterwaul , but the band is at its best when Pearson, the real star here, lets loose and gets angular, as on the awesomely delicious hardcore blast “Idiopathic.” This being Patton, yes, yes, there’s plenty of crooning and multi-tracking to go with the wails, but his signature brand of high drama doesn’t distract from the vitriol.
Metalheads will fall in love with the crunchy thrash of “The Future Has Been Cancelled,” with Pearson’s awesome guitar breakdown at the 20-second mark and Patton’s occasionally breathless bark. And everyone will love the album-closing “Church of the Motherfuckers,” a throbbing dirge that’s thick with drama and features some of Patton’s best roars on the record. All in all, these guys have nailed down a hell of a debut. Get on the rails so it can run you over.