My shit stinks like the breath of your mom
Swing your stick boy, bring it on… (Shillelagh)
Some things are just preordained. As soon as I swaggered into Probe Records on my lunchtime and saw the cover of Dead Cross in the new releases section a couple of weeks ago I just knew it had to be mine. Mike Patton, Dave Lombardo … limited edition of 2000 on gold vinyl, with a glow-in-the-dark sleeve … come to Butthead.
What you get for your hard-earned is one of the heaviest LPs I’ve heard in an age and one of the most interesting too. It’s an incredibly dexterous mix of real thrash metal and hardcore punk with some real oddness sprinkled on top, courtesy of the singer, who I gather used to be in some band. The basic sound template is probably (1537 faves) D.R.I* but sped way, way up to land speed record attempt levels.
Just slip opener ‘Seizure and Desist’ on for a nice gentle introduction to Dead Cross:
There’s a lot to be angry about at the moment and its okay Dead Cross are there to do it for you/with you. So we have all manner of creepy ghouls and skeletons on the cover but, Bela Lugosi aside, Dead Cross concentrate on our contemporary horrors. This is exactly the rage I’ve been waiting for.
Right from the get-go I love all the vocal strangeness Paton adds, with a more earthbound singer this would still help me get my rage-on but would be a much more pedestrian prospect. Interestingly Dead Cross was a done deal before Patton joined, having been put together by Lombardo, bassist Justin Pearson and guitarist Mike Crain**, the music having been for the most part already written too. It sounds as though Patton relished just having to concentrate on vox, throwing absolutely everything into it^. It is great to hear Dave Lombardo playing to his absolute limits, he is just completely immense – you forget sometimes just what an incredible drummer he is, playing with real swing as well as shit tons of athleticism.
Almost every track on Dead Cross hurtles past you like a freight train, until ‘Gag Reflex’ which weighs in at a gargantuan 4:21 but there are easily enough change-ups and variations to make life interesting – ‘Shillelagh’s ludicrously fast (true) tale of being threatened in Ireland in quite homophobic terms, ‘Idiopathic’s slowed down ‘mosh’ section, oh and a great cover. The band give us a really good, changed yet respectful ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, which the band jammed on just because they loved it – it does a great job of resetting our gourmet palate before the LP’s finest moment.
When I first bought Dead Cross and I was floundering to gain a toehold it was ‘Divine Filth’ that showed me the future. Patton sings it like he’s trying to digest a Serj Tankian he ate earlier. It’s just fucking mayhem – everyone seems to just click and hurtle forwards, it really is the most stunning heaviness I’ve heard all year, hitting hard, yet simultaneously really playful too; has Patton ever done a better vocal? it’s debatable. Plus the band get 1537 bonus points for including the Brazilian motto, ‘Ordem e progresso’ in the lyrics too, for no apparent reason. Perfect.
The rest is all great too but I’ll let you discover it all on your own, I especially commend ‘The Future Has Been Cancelled’ and ‘Church of the Motherfuckers’ to y’all – when I’m a multi-gazillionaire oligarch I swear I’ll use the latter as my firm’s hold music. It’s just brutal stuff, uncompromising as hell too – the LP is all done and gone in just over 28 minutes, which is a perfect time for an LP like this, 45 minutes would just make you feel like a tennis ball during a Williams sisters’ knock about.
I should also point out that, just as an object this is a connoisseur’s chunk of vinyl. Ipecac gives us a great thick cover, the lyrics are hidden away on the gatefold in raised white on white glossy script (I kid you not), add in all the glow-in-the-dark gubbins and it must have cost a small fortune to produce. It’s a quality item and I’m pleased I own it, unless all this consumerism means that I’m part of the problem – it’s complicated, what do you say Mike Patton?
I’m just a moron chasing pigeons in the park
But I will leave my mark (Grave Slave)
PS: How cool is this?
**I would like to pretend to be knowledgeable about Crain and Pearson, but I promised my late grandmother I would never lie about my US strangecore knowledge. True story.
^as opposed to making (non-FNM) music that I feel is probably a lot more enjoyable and interesting to make and perform, than it is to listen to.