Tales From the Keg #1 (Organized Crime Records)

tfk_header.jpgMidwest thrash-metal act Cross Examination (named Best Metal Band in the 2008 Riverfront Times poll) tosses a free comic in with their latest release, but it’s the album itself that really impresses.

 

24 pgs. B&W;  Included (for $2 shipping fee) with Menace II Sobriety CD by Cross Examination

(W: Daniel Hill, Ryan O’Brien, Raymondo Arriola, Leon St. Cin, Justin Toxicated, & Jeff Worm; A: Jeff Worm aka Jeff Wilson)

 

Jeff Wilson, creator of Sap comics, collaborates with Midwest thrash-metal act Cross Examination for a one-shot comic, "Tales from the Keg."

In a cute tribute to EC’s Crypt Keeper, a decaying, skeletal dude pumping beer from a keg introduces two stories. Cross Examination’s lyrics celebrate beer, weed, pizza, and partying, and the stories here do the same.

In the first tale, a mad scientist grows weed using human corpses as fertilizer. The smokers of the "necroponic" become zombies who see people as hamburgers and French fries and then try to eat them. It’s up to the fearless dudes in Cross Examination to put a stop to this abomination.

In the second story, a dragon steals some dude’s bong and flies to the top of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch to smoke up. It’s a pointless tale told in rhyming couplets. Ugh.

The book is drawn in a cute, earnest, high-school-ish style that works, but the end result is unremarkable

Way cooler is Cross Examination’s music. These guys are much tighter than a bar-metal band from St. Louis has the right to be. Picked up by Brookfield, Ill.’s Organized Crime Records, Cross Examination is a five-piece thrash band that works the only way a good thrash band can—they may boast about drinking like fish, but their music is anything but sloppy. The guitars, bass, and drums hammer and twist in perfect lockstep through militaristic tattoos and well-crafted hooks.

Lead singer Daniel "Kegmaster D" Hill barks in a high register, and it’s a welcome break from the embarrassing Cookie Monster croak so popular in metal these days. At the same time, his voice has an annoying quality that brings to mind Steve Souza of Exodus and maybe a touch of Jello Biafra—he’s an acquired taste.

C-X’s raucous live shows sometimes feature costumes—Hill likes to dress up as a slice of pizza—along with fog machines and homemade light-up signs that read "Circle Pit" and "Fuck Yeah," according to the page at their label’s web site. Their great sense of humor is evident in the lyrics too, as in their song "Raid Your Fridge": "To appease the beast / illegitimate feast / it’s feeding time / that chocolate milk is mine."

Cross Examination may have an upside-down crucifix in their logo, but, unlike so many similar bands, they’re not working overtime to convince you they’re more evil than the steaming black turds of Satan. They’re just getting drunk and having goofy fun. The band is memorable, but the freebie comic book that comes with their CD, not so much. | Byron Kerman

To learn more about Cross Examination, visit their MySpace page: www.myspace.com/crossexamination

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