Supergroups can be a double-edged sword. I’ve found myself buzzing over the announcement of disparate heroes teaming up to combine my favorite things into the definitive soundtrack of my life, only to be disappointed. These experiments can be underwhelming at best and occasionally so ill conceived that the stink of ego and desperation seeps into your whole record collection. Of course there are exceptions, and I am currently headbanging like a giddy school girl over one of them – hardcore/art band supergroup Dead Cross.
Back when I was just a wee lad with ripped jeans and an unfortunate flat-top mullet, I discovered Faith No More and by extension Mr. Bungle. Since then my fanboy obsession with the frontman of both bands, Mike Patton, has only grown and his involvement in a project is usually enough to pique my interest. Add to that the unparalleled skills of legendary Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo and I am already out buying the t-shirt.
Lombardo, along with freak-punk pioneer Justin Pearson from Locust and Michael Crain from Retox, formed the band in 2015 with Gabe Serbian on vocals. Their album was recorded and in the cans when Serbian decided to quit the group. Instead of releasing it as is, the band decided to hire Mike Patton to rerecord the vocals with all new lyrics and melodies. The result is a self-titled LP coming out on August 4th.
The latest single is called “Grave Slave.” It’s reportedly about drug cartels and senseless killing on the border and Lombardo describes it as “S&M for your ears.” I’m inclined to agree. The song kicks the door down right away with a heavy double bass rumble and Patton screeching like a banshee half his age. Then it shifts to something resembling a chorus with a vocal call and response over revolving tom-tom rolls and a grinding guitar. Around forty seconds in, the song shifts from a noise rock assault to a marching metal riff with yet another vocal twist, as Patton comes out of a long demonic scream to growl the words “Like a fucking drunk/Piano man/At the border.”
Just when you thought it was safe to play air guitar through the rest of the tune, the tempo suddenly slows and the whole band breaks down into a mosh pit-inspiring crawl. Lombardo’s double bass churns under atmospheric strings while Ennio Morricone-esque backing vocals lay the foundation for Patton to have a conversation with himself about the disgrace of the puppet state and something about blowing out the candles on a urinal cake. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the liner notes. If this single is any indication, Dead Cross is going to keep us guessing, and maybe they can restore my faith in the power of the supergroup.
Dead Cross is currently on a national tour and will be playing The UC Theatre in Bearkely on August 23rd. I will be there reviewing the show at for Mind Equals Blown, so stay tuned for that. Until then, keep it loud and keep it weird.