Just in time for the holidays, American hardcore “supergroup” Dead Cross released their second full-length album, II, on Ipecac Recordings this past October. The album is a concoction of musical treatments, doused with innovative riffs of gothic proportion, drummed up from the ash of burnt angel wings. It assaults the mind as it slowly peels the skin from the back of your neck. An entourage of metal’s finest, drilling distorted bass riffs into a tight metal frame, led by the ethereal uprise and brutal assault of Mike Patton’s vocals. A group of signature personas co-authoring new anthems of isolation and hatred towards war, global dominance, extreme consumerism, toxic masculinity, insanity, and fear-mongering. A scathing shitstorm of misanthropy aimed at society at large.
Anyway, continue reading below for my full review. Visit the Ipecac Recordings Website for Dead Cross music and merch. Album review by Joseph Strand.
Dead Cross’ II courses through a variety of musical styles, colored brilliantly by guitarist Michael Crain and bassist Justin Pearson, both in technical execution and effects design, staging an unsettling atmosphere of isolation, in contrast to the otherwise in-your-face performances that elevate the music, pummeling the listener’s frontal lobe.
With the album’s opener Love Without Love, we are ushered in by the beating drum of a death march through Valhalla led by cloven-hooved drummer, Dave Lombardo. An apocalyptic opener that conjures images of a hellish battlefield where neither victory nor defeat shall survive. Only open wounds and scar tissue. “You are my perfect breath, an everlasting wave treading water in a place no lifeguard can save.”
Bass drills on Heart Reformer… God yes. Bassist Justin Pearson nails it with his hollow distorted tones and manic riffs. A song that goes through bouts of heavy breathing via the grace of Crain’s floating reverberant melodies, before suddenly pulling us back into hard rock jihad. This single got released with a music video from Chris J. Cunnigham a.k.a. Dark Details. A sinister depiction of a man being sized up for an inescapable bardo after being brain-washed and hardwired by his captors. A brilliant commentary on totalitarianism, mind control, and being stripped of one’s privacy. The video adds a strong definition to the experience of this song. It tethers itself to the tonal changes in the music, a visual corpus to a harrowing tale of mankind in the digital age.
Christian Missile Crisis steps up to the grandstand of global disruption. A thrasher that sounds like a rash of street riots breaking out one after another, in a classic metal style resembling Lombardo’s former band Slayer. A maniacal spyglass into social discord and catharsis for a man who has been overfed images of chaos from within his cage. This single also got released with a music video, an edit of found footage from the Internet Archive and past Dead Cross show’s assembled by Displaced/Replaced in the UK. This video has “Ipecac” all over it, as it hurls copious amounts of vomit and projectile defecation all over images of organized religion, over-consumption, and balls-out tough guy masculinity. Ending this video in a nuclear explosion almost comes across as passing gas more than pushing the red button. Even a totalitarian image such as it, pales in comparison to the intensity of this riled little number.
Nightclub Canary introduces a twist of punk rock that carries with it remnants of Mr. Bungle’s brand of jukebox nightclub groove, also reminiscent at times of the band Ministry. Featuring the thrashiest solo on the entire album, ending with a canary-like high pitch screatch from Patton. This cocktail is served up best on a cross. “Nightclub canary, Nightclub canary, You are a purple-haired tooth-fairy, in a world where everything’s a remake.”
For a bunch of badasses in their 40s-50s who “wanted to create the most brutal piece of work that we can do.”, this 32-minute 9-song album is exactly that, with undulating levels of style and intensity. Anyone with a careful ear, a love for various genres of hard rock and metal, and 32 minutes to spare can appreciate the spectrum of sub-genres that were stitched together to produce II. It’s a creative mélange of ass-kicking riffs and melodies that march into madness with its own brand of critique and dark humor.
Be sure to visit the Ipecac Recordings Website for Dead Cross music and merch. Album review by Joseph Strand.