photo & text by nacrowe
in 1996 i moved to NIGERIA and basically hung out with the 8th graders as a sixth grader. i was tall for my age and looking back a lot of the kids on the compound (yes, i lived on a compound) that were my age were pretty lame. they were from places like TEXAS and LOUISIANA and to tell you the truth i am still processing stuff from that time well into my 30s. just the racist bullshit i saw from my direct peers. regardless, there were a string of bands i got into through these older friends: bands like UGLY KID JOE, ALICE IN CHAINS and FAITH NO MORE. by that period i was familiar with the COLLEGE ROCK and ALTERNATIVE ROCK played on 106.7FM KROQ in LOS ANGELES (NIRVANA, SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM, THE OFFSPRING, GREEN DAY), but somehow ALICE IN CHAINS and FAITH NO MORE missed my radar, which is pretty odd in retrospect. maybe i was just clueless or not paying close enough attention in CALIFORNIA.
regardless, once i heard ANGEL DUST (SLASH/REPRISE, 1992) my pre-teen mind was blown completely blown off its hinges. production-wise that album is real mind-bender and i have heard that producers have been A/B-ing their mixes to it, along with SOUNDGARDEN's SUPERUNKNOWN (A&M, 1994), for years. ANGEL DUST sonically is strong departure from its successful predecessor THE REAL THING (SLASH/REPRISE, 1989) as well as previous records during the pre-MIKE PATTON era of singer CHUCK MOSELEY in that it intricately interlaces keyboards, found sounds and even BEAVIS & BUTTHEAD samples into a dense wall-of-sound that is absolutely massive. key songs that showcase this approach include "CAFFEINE," "EVERYTHING'S RUINED," "MALPRACTICE," "LAND OF SUNSHINE," "SMALLER AND SMALLER," "MIDLIFE CRISIS" and "KINDERGARTEN." this expressive, textured sonic landscape is the perfect palette for PATTON's operatic voice to truly take flight and enter orbit beyond the exosphere.
which is to say that PATTON is a truly fearless singer. keyboardist RODDY BOTTUM wrote the song "BE AGGRESSIVE" which lyrically an ode to homosexual oral sex and PATTON conveys it with unflinching gusto and commitment. so much so that i didnt realize what the song was about until high school. again, i was clueless. when i reread the lyrics and i learned what the song was actually about i particularly admired that someone i assumed to be heterosexual (which was a big assumption on my part) would be so unguarded and transparent in his delivery, especially when the album came out in 1992. this topic in a METAL song would be arguably still be considered bold in 2021. it is one thing to promote inclusiveness and support the right's of others, but PATTON basically inhabits another's perspective and really does it justice in this song. so yeah, my adoration of PATTON and his approach to singing really began with this song in particular.
whats interesting is that this sort of boldness was not shared in the band and guitarist JIM MARTIN left shortly thereafter. it was undoubtedly due, from what i've read over the years, to a combination of the lyrical subject matter as well as the less prominent role of the guitar in the overall sound. that is not to say that the album lacks in terms of big riffs and memorable moments surrounding distorted guitar tones, if anything this is "the" FAITH NO MORE album that guitarists dissect and analyze for such. i think he just saw the writing on the wall for what the direction was moving forward and in some ways he is not correct as later albums had a more stripped back aesthetic regarding guitar tones and a multi-layered and multi-textured electronic aesthetic.
i should also mention the boldness of closing the album with an iconic cover of "EASY" by THE COMMODORES. it is a straight take on the easy-listening piano-based ballad by LIONEL RITCHIE that really showcases PATTON's range as well as frames RITCHIE's songwriting abilities. it almost feels like a throwback to a begotten time when the likes of FRANK SINATRA and TONY BENNET would effortlessly cover songs from the GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK. its an odd choice but only in a METAL / ALTERNATIVE ROCK context where everything is formulaic. as an admirer of songwriting, i'm sure FAITH NO MORE just thought it was a great song by a gifted songwriter, their close-minded audience be damned.
so anyway, great album by a great band arguably at the peak of their powers. one of the cornerstone albums of my childhood that still crushes more than 30 years later.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
with a rhythm section that includes former members of RETOX, THE LOCUST and the almighty SLAYER, DEAD CROSS would be worth the price of admission alone before any mention of vocalist MIKE PATTON. obviously PATTON is a gifted talent whose depth and range precede him, but what makes this project standout among his discography is its undiluted aggression and utter lack of subtlety.
this is a straight-up, confrontational spit-in-your-eye HARDCORE record in the best tradition of the genre. it holds up with the discography of all members involved.
definitely worth diving into a check out. love this band.
thanks to DEAD CROSS for sharing our IG story promoting this entry!
parody by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO dedicated to the enigmatic, wide-ranging career of the singular musical talent of MIKE PATTON, easily one of my all-time favorite musicians for his work in FAITH NO MORE, MR. BUNGLE, TOMAHAWK, FANTOMAS, PEEPING TOM and his various other collaborations over the years. this playlist really only scratches the surface of his impact and legacy.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW and CLASSICAL-ISH WITH NUTMEG are available here at the DEER GOD website.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
somewhere along the way, legendary guitar player SCOTT IAN of THRASH METAL icons ANTHRAX learned he had a real gift for storytelling. his obvious mentor in this regard was HARDCORE frontman HENRY ROLLINS of BLACK FLAG/ROLLINS BAND fame who has maintained a longstanding second career as an in-demand spoken-word artist.
given his stature, IAN has seen things over his 30+ year career and his second memoir ACCESS ALL AREAS: STORIES FROM A HARD ROCK LIFE (DA CAPO PRESS 2017), which he penned himself, maintains his acerbic wit, cadence and voice. reading through this it is not hard to imagine him standing beside you performing each narrative as a spoken-word routine, which is definitely a compliment. there is a reason why most musicians don't write their own memoirs, and IAN proves himself a highly capable narrator. his style is very much utilitarian in that he doesn't get too wordy or overly clever with descriptions, which in a way describes his iconic no-sense rhythm guitar work and that of his musical idol, MALCOLM YOUNG of AC/DC.
obviously i don't want to give away any of the stories, but i will say that they deal with his outside pursuits regarding professional poker, moonlighting in tv shows like THE WALKING DEAD and GAME OF THRONES, relationships and of course touring. highlights include stories that include the pranks of legendary PANTERA guitarist DIMEBAG DARRELL (R.I.P.), hanging out with MADONNA and the wardrobe choices of the immortal LEMMY KILMISTER (R.I.P.) of the almighty MOTÖRHEAD.
IAN comes off as a hardworking musician more than aware of how fortunate he is to have his career and the respect of his peers and this book, along with the previous I AM THE MAN: THE STORY OF THAT GUY FROM ANTHRAX (DA CAPO PRESS 2014), seem to be a celebration of that community of musicians. a celebration of how they touched his life, so in that regard i hope he keeps writing.
also keep a look out for the dude in concert. just learned he's touring with MR. BUNGLE in 2020. MIKE PATTON and SCOTT IAN sharing a stage. man, life certainly does not suck.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
back in college i spent writing a senior thesis on BILLY WILDER, specifically his early FILM NOIR cycle of films. this was in part a compromise as my advisor originally told me that in order to write about FILM NOIR, i needed to watch a majority of the 520 films considered to be a part of the genre. NOIR films in general were a reaction to the psychic trauma and intense political/cultural upheaval that was the post-WWII period. these films examined power structures in all their manifestations, much like the ROMAN NOIR literature that inspired it, and served as a sort of existential crisis for american society to work through what society they wanted to create after such an intense overseas engagement. i got through 150 over a few months and was beginning to lose my mind.
then i saw at the suggestion of my advisor what became my favorite film of that entire genre, CHARLES LAUGHTON's unnervingly prescient THE NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (UNITED ARTISTS 1955). the film is a marvel.
this film specifically goes after how god, faith and country can be manipulated, how religion can be corruptly utilized for profit and to empower. PULITZER PRIZE-winning writer JAMES AGEE's screenplay unnervingly exposes the ease at which unbridled human greed can be wrapped in the sanctimonious garb of religiosity to prey on the weak, in this case children. this is the role ROBERT MITCHUM was meant to play and is his crowning achievement.
deftly shot and framed by legendary cinematographer STANLEY CORTEZ, who would later go on to collaborate with SAMUEL FULLER, with homages to GERMAN EXPRESSIONISM and their haunting use of low-angled chiaroscuro lighting, this film is a visually stunning.
this is film is also an anomaly as it marked the only film directed by notable film and theater actor CHARLES LAUGHTON, as it was a box office failure. much like ACE IN THE HOLE, it cut too deep at the heart of the american life and called into question a still taboo issue that hasn't been addressed in the era of mega-churches and televangelists swarming on unfortunates like flies on pigs in a stye. it is quite the achievement that a 60+ year-old film hasn't depreciated in relevancy one iota. sadly due to its initial commercial failure this also marks the only collaborative effort by all its principal participants, which is a real tragedy in and of itself as today this is regarded in the same breath by critics as ORSON WELLES' influential classic CITIZEN KANE.
easily one of my favorite films and should be required viewing for anyone interested in film in general. cannot overstate how great this film is.