There came a moment, about five minutes into the first festival set in Dead Cross’ young life, when people started leaving the Roots stage at Chicago’s Riot Fest. They shared a look on their face — a half smile “this is fine and now I must leave” expression. I’d compare it to the kind of expression someone makes when they take their first trip from the suburbs into the city and witness a homeless person taking a dump on a pizza box in an alley. Maybe it was just a few Riot Fest attendees not knowing what to expect from Dead Cross, a hardcore thrash-metal supergroup consisting of Faith No More/Fantomas vocal god Mike Patton, former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo, Locust/Retox bassist Justin Pearson, and Retox guitarist Michael Crain.
For those familiar with the players in the band, Dead Cross delivered the most brutal and heavy show at day two of Riot Fest. Their sound was almost painful. Dave Lombardo’s double bass induced heart arrhythmia, Crain’s guitars made eyes go loopy and Pearson’s bass felt like a gut punch. The only possible explanation for their sound is a seedy scene in which they paid off the sound guy so they could complete their mission of ruining speakers and eardrums forever. Dead Cross didn’t melt faces, they inched up to them like a werewolf then clawed them off, death by a thousand swipes of sharpened fingernails, and all of it was led by the screeches and cascading howls of Mike Patton — who hasn’t sounded so at home since he was in full swing with his avant-garde metal project Fantomas.