The Dillinger Escape Plan Say Goodbye
Throughout their twenty-year career, New Jersey mathcore progenitors ‘The Dillinger Escape Plan’ have been exploring the limitations of rock music with experimental, cerebral albums that have never failed to disappoint. Indeed, of their six total albums to date, I wouldn’t be able to single out one in particular as the band’s worst. The consistent nature of their albums’ quality could be seen as a major reason why a band as experimental as Dillinger was able to build such an impressive mainstream following while simultaneously breaking the boundaries of what rock music is in the first place. So why, at the height of their power and with multiple critically acclaimed album under their belt, would they announce their sudden break-up?
It’s possible that the band, obsessed as they are with precision and technical perfection, may have wanted to quit while they’re ahead and pursue their own inevitable side projects; vocalist Greg Puciato and lead guitarist Ben Weinman already released LPs from collaborative efforts with members of other bands from disparate metal genres, namely Mastodon, The Mars Volta, and Sepultura, with some of these albums being released in the last two years. In addition, inner turmoil has oft been floated as a possible motivator for the break-up – the band has had a revolving-door line-up since their inception, with the only constant members since 2002 being Puciato, Weinman, and bassist Liam Wilson. They’ve had three drummers and six rhythm guitarists since the band’s founding in 1997.
In a band as intense as The Dillinger Escape Plan, it would be no surprise if tension between members was a contributing factor to the break-up, but if I had to speculate, I would guess that it was more due to a growing rift in creative sensibilities rather than a clash of personalities. The band’s most recent album, Dissociation – released October 14, 2016 – reads like an extreme metal band testing the waters of seemingly-competing genres that each member may want to explore later on – perhaps on an album over which they have more creative control.
The album itself is likely one of the most diverse and versatile records that Dillinger have released to date. In listening to older records of theirs in preparation for this new release, I was astounded by how much the band has improved beyond even their own scarce technical limitations. Even their previous critically-lauded albums, namely Ire Works and One of Us Is the Killer, while not necessarily being usurped by Dissociation in overall levels of quality and sound, are without a doubt left in the dust by this most recent LP’s sheer brutality. Not content with staying within their mathcore designation, Dissociation often veers off-track in ways that are never disorienting or confusing; even the EDM-inspired track “Fugue” works perfectly within the otherwise breakneck sound that the band has crafted. Over the album’s 50-minute runtime – an almost indulgent length for a Dillinger album – we get samplings of emo, alternative-y vocal performances, and guitar solos that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Avenged Sevenfold release, and the comprehension the band has of the material and inspirations they attempt to draw together is staggering. Segments of the album will pair Puciato’s punk-inspired screams with soaring vocal performances and orchestral overtones, and it all flows together without issue.
If anything, the album is too diverse; the sheer volume of ideas being presented at times becomes overwhelming, especially when considered with the 50-minute span over which they take place. But as a testing of the band’s members’ personal limitations, a filling of perceived gaps on their resume both creatively and in terms of engineering and technical mastery of their instruments, it’s hard not to see Dissociation as one of the band’s most beautifully tough and demanding albums to date. While the genre that acts as a framework for the band’s experimentation might not be quite to your liking, there’s more than enough to appreciate in terms of musical diversity and impressive performances on this LP to make it very much worth your time.