Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 15/4
The Dillinger Escape Plan
Written by: AP on 08/02/2017 09:08:24
When it comes to one’s favourite artists, one tends to be under the blissful illusion that they are going to last forever. But whereas certain old-school institutions do like to push well past their expiration date, that was never in the cards for a band of such mythical notoriety as Morris Plains, NJ’s mathcore legends, The Dillinger Escape Plan. In keeping with the group’s nature, the demise needed to be swift and unexpected, and happen at the apex of their career, while infamies such as vocalist Greg Puciato’s defecating onto a stage were still realistic to expect to witness at one of their concerts. In light of the physical demands of being a musician in TDEP, it is actually a miracle that the quintet has survived for two decades without tempering the madness. But of course, none of the alleviates the sadness of having to now wave goodbye to one of the most important bands of this generation through a process of one last album, “Dissociation”, and a series of farewell shows taking place this year.
As an epitaph, “Dissociation” thus expectedly provides a panorama of TDEP’s repertoire in the Puciato-era, which began when he was chosen as the replacement for original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis in mid-2001. Puciato’s first studio contribution, however, was to the band’s seminal sophomore album, “Miss Machine”, in 2004 — the first Dillinger’ outing to introduce some pop sensibilities to the entropy by which the band defined itself on 1999’s “Calculating Infinity”. Without the adjustment, they might never have broken through; it paved the way for gradually substituting sheer cacophony for the catchier and more progressive, Faith No More-esque eclecticism that continues to inform TDEP’s style on this final piece. Make no mistake: against the standards of 2013’s ”One of Us is the Killer” and 2010’s “Option Paralysis”, “Dissociation” is unquestionably a more ferocious and off-the-hinges type of affair, capable of engendering a migraine in even the most weathered connoisseur.
What has always intrigued me about TDEP’s music is the impossibility of it. The band has a confounding ability to generate lasting value amidst the vortices of rhythmic dissonance, deliberately tuneless riffs and psychopathic screams that perforate songs like “Limerent Death” and “Low Feels Blvd.”. They specialise in executing ideas that most people would readily deem certifiable, dropping lounge-jazz intermezzos, clean sung sections, orchestral elements and electronica into the grinder without a flinch — and somehow, by virtue of founding guitarist and main-brain Ben Weinman’s talent, those insane juxtapositions make sense. Perhaps even more crucially though, “Dissociation”, like all of its predecessors, benefits from the animal magnetism of danger. Even the catchiest segments, such as the dark, “Unretrofied”-evoking balladry of “Symptom of Terminal Illness” or “Nothing to Forget” with its falsetto singing and elegant violin soliloquy, are tarnished by a kind of seething derangement threatening to boil over at any second. And as we know, it usually does.
“Dissociation” is thus as much a classic Dillinger’ album as a celebration of the band’s illustrious career. But while the spazzy rages keep a high standard, the band’s other selling point — the bizarrely anthemic quality that wrote tracks like “Nothing’s Funny”, “Farewell, Mona Lisa”, “Milk Lizard” and “Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants” into time immemorial — is less convincing now. Glimpses of it materialise through “Honeysuckle”, but honestly, it is the “43% Burnt”-on-acid nature of everything outside of the chorus that bestows it with the esteem of being a key highlight. “Manufacturing Discontent” likewise briefly dabbles in a big chorus, but its real forte is the schizoid formula that has Puciato mimicking Jamie Foxx’s part in Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” at one point. The fact that “Dissociation” thus feels less ‘complete’ than its predecessors implies that TDEP may have picked exactly the right moment to call it a day.
With the band’s animosity and dizzying technical ability still intact, “Dissociation” avoids leaving things in a sour state, but there are signs of decay and my integrity might suffer if I neglected to point out that the album does not showcase Dillinger’ at their fiercest or best. Compared to pretty much anything else, this stuff is breathtaking — but by the band’s own towering standards, “Dissociation” just does not sound like they were firing on all cylinders. Indeed, the turbo-charge that has produced a stream of records both punishing and monumental in the past, seems to be in its dying embers.
Download: Limerent Death, Symptom of Terminal Illness, Honeysuckle, Nothing to Forget
For the fans of: Beecher, Botch, Car Bomb, Ion Dissonance
Release date 14.10.2016
Party Smasher Inc. / Cooking Vinyl