The Dillinger Escape Plan have arguably been the finest heavy band or experimental band on the planet for nearly two decades now and certainly one of the most interesting in music in general. 1999 debut 'Calculating Infinity' saw Dillinger become the essential mathcore band with incomprehensible rhythms, uncaged noise and face melting technical ability. With each following release they've welcomed new elements, be it pianos, electronics, pop hooks or jazz interplays. They've always been capable of executing it all seamlessly thanks to guitarist/multi-instrumentalist (and only original member) Ben Weinman being a mastermind, long-time frontman Greg Puciato having incredible range capable of throat tearing barks, conquering soaring and delicate intimacy as well as the most constantly sh*t-hot rhythm section regardless of who's been in or out of it at any particular time. Newest album 'Dissociation' is also unfortunately the band's last before they split up next year, but in true Dillinger fashion they set fire to any kind of rulebook one last time.
Kicking things off is 'Limerent Death' which is a factory of riffs, each one made to flatten you like a pancake. Whether it's all-over-the-place fretwork, sharp, high pitched jolts, burly grooves which flex their muscles or Puciato's manic vocal delivery, Dillinger tick every box when it comes to delivering the aggressive. Just when you think you think you have this song sussed out, the tempo suddenly doubles to leave you ruined.
Luckily there's time to recover with 'Symptom Of Terminal Illness' which instantly switches to a whole other side to Dillinger and that's their catchy one. Thanks to some Latin guitar, bendy Mike Patton-esque vocals and a chorus that soars, Dillinger deliver a song just as memorable as anything conventional, without sacrificing their mad-scientist edge. Whilst they're most well known for their chaos, they're also masters of melodic gold when they want to be and this is a prime example of that.
'Wanting Not So Much As To' is signature Dillinger mathcore until traces of jumpy trumpet hint at something different round the corner, then after some more jerking of contorted rhythms, Greg adopts a spoken word vocal style a-kin to Lee Ronaldo of Sonic Youth, something the band have never done before, and is truly effective whether a long-time listener or new to the band, with it sticking like a sore thumb compared to his vocals on the rest 'Dissociation' and Dillinger's output. Speaking of something the something Dillinger have never done before, instrumental 'Fugue' is solid drill n bass, with squelchy, rapid programmed beats and spooky overtones which Aphex Twin himself would've been proud to call his own.
'Low Feels Blvd' repeatedly batters you with jittery guitar stabs, which feel like bricks to the face before exploding into full-on jazz fusion with smooth, classy, but animated drumming from Billy Rymer as well as colourful, hallucinogenic licks from Weinman. After a whole lifespan of constantly taking the listener by surprise, it seems it's still best to expect the unexpected with Dillinger.
There are also a handful of tracks that don't really see Dillinger trying any new big, surprising ideas, but they remain thrilling none-the-less. Dillinger simply rocking out is still one the most exhilarating things. They've always been able to take you on unpredictable rides with just guitars, thanks to their refusal to play it safe and it's something they've only grown more adamant about over the years. For instance, 'Honeysuckle' is about as punishing as it gets with a frenzy of lurching guitars, yet still inimitable countering jazzy noodling and makes a joke of down-tuning obsessed bands, with a wholly moshtastic moment made mainly with standard high notes, put into the most firm and possessive groove.
'Nothing To Forget' builds up with much palm-muted chugging, stompy chords and Puciato bitterly shrieking about how he doesn't need anything or anyone, before some stunning, tender strings come into play and Puciato gently sings '¬I struggle not to fall in darkened rooms as I try to look for you' contrasting what he was just screaming about minutes ago, making for a powerful duality. It's a very human moment, trying to appear tough and impenetrable on the outside, but having vulnerability and fears on the inside.
The title track ends the record and most likely Dillinger's recording output, in the most fitting way, with one of their most surprising songs ever as well as one of their best. Opening with some more strings before going into miserable, throbbing electronic beats this feels like a moving burial for Dillinger. Puciato's voice is like glass it being so delicate, as he croons lines full of sorrow, but which can be interpreted anyway the listener feels such as 'don't confuse being set free with being discarded' or 'finding a way to die alone was better than what I was shown'. The strings make a return, only being accompanied by Puciato's voice and level drumming, making for a haunting atmosphere. And with that Dillinger cement their legacy as one of the most creative and adventurous bands the world of music has ever known.
Prior to 'Dissociation' The Dillinger Escape Plan had given everything a band could possibly give. Legendary live shows, unrelenting passion, diversity, revolutionary ideas, exemplary musicianship and the purest, most sincere emotions. They could've ended after their debut and have been considered essential metal listening, but they've only repeatedly gone above expectations and that's why this record is a perfect end to this flawless band, because even in their final chapter, they're still laying out the future. Good enough was clearly never enough for this band so, literally, thanks for everything Dillinger Escape Plan.
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