"Cross Off" is the opening track of Lamb of God guitarist Mark Morton's debut solo album, Anesthetic. Morton began composing the song with Jake Oni. Producer Josh Wilbur and Morton recorded all guitars with Trivium band members Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent, who added bass and drums respectively. Morton then approached Linkin Park's Chester Bennington about singing the vocals. Bennington loved the song and came to the studio with additional ideas and lyrics.
Bennington's vocals were recorded just a few months before his untimely death in June 2017. Morton recalled the collaboration with the Linkin Park singer in an interview with Metal Hammer magazine: "It was immediate. Fifteen minutes after we met, we were standing over a table, one on either side, each with scraps of paper and pencil, crossing off words and trying different rhyme schemes and stuff. And then after the track was laid out, then we took a breath and started talking about more personal stuff."
Speaking with Kerrang!, Morton explained that Bennington's contribution came in the lyrics and overall attitude of the song. "I was heavily involved with the lyrics, it was when I was coming out of a pretty heavy time in my life," the guitarist recalled. "I was thinking about rebirth and a fresh start."
"So the lyric references all of that with a bit of 'F--- you!' in there too, which mainly came from Chester!" he added.
Mark Morton told Kerrang the lyrics to "Cross Off" are very personal to him. "When I brought it in, I had an outline for the song, and then Chester and I kind of went through it," he explained. "It's sort of about codependency. Parts of it reference directly a relationship ending in my life, but parts of it are about self-destruction and codependency and just the ways we beat ourselves up. And regret, I guess, is a theme in there too."
The video, directed by Roboshobo (Metallica, Mastodon, Alice In Chains), features a man in a parking garage being tormented by an invisible force. There is also performance footage of Morton with Paolo Gregoletto and Alex Bent, plus periodic shots of a lone microphone, which are presumably a nod to the late Chester Bennington.