Dillinger Leaves Some Big Shoes to Fill
“What did you expect, that we would never leave home?”
After nearly two decades of reinventing music, The Dillinger Escape Plan is calling it quits. The line above, from “Farewell (Mona Lisa)” was a message to fans who were dissatisfied with the departure in sound from their debut masterpiece, Calculating Infinity. But it feels just as apt now, as fans are now saying goodbye altogether to one of music’s most heavy-hitting and influential bands. There seems to be no malice or ill-will amongst the members, but rather that they all feel as though they’ve done as much as they can with this project and are ready to move on.
Criticizing The Dillinger Escape Plan’s departure in sound is a gross misunderstanding of their creative and artistic direction. They didn’t depart from anything, but rather evolved and changed in order to keep putting music out that was new and original. The hectic math-rock dissonance that was thrust on the world with Calculating Infinity is still found throughout the rest of their catalog, but is now juxtaposed alongside a whirlwind of different musical elements. Each record has been a consistent growth of their sound, yet has always retained a unique kind of energy that is specific to the band.
Fans aren’t being left out in the dust though. Along with an upcoming tour, The Dillinger Escape Plan is leaving with one final entry, Dissociation. As the last chapter in their discography, the band doesn’t hold back any punches. Dissociation is a culmination of all the years of their sonic evolution. Across nineteen years of creative growth, Dillinger has incorporated a wide range of musical influence into their sound and it all shows on their last album. There’s the old-school mathy dissonance, heavy driving hardcore/rock and plenty of tasteful jazz fusion elements. There’s even some EDM/dubstep moments, which are a little weird, but oddly manage to find a way to fit in.
The album has plenty of the chaotic hardcore and metal-driven doses of violence that listeners can expect from a Dillinger record. “Limerent Death” wastes no time getting right into the thick of it, with a high-energy dose of adrenaline that’s an in-your-face aural assault. It leads right into “Symptoms of Terminal Illness,” which shows the more mellowed-down prog-rock side of Dillinger, bringing vocalist Greg Puciatio’s powerful and domineering voice right to the front. “Low Feels” feels like it came right out of Calculating Infinity, with plenty of the dissonant, atonal riffs and shifting time signatures that Dillinger is known for. Once that’s done, they throw a curve ball in the form of jazz fusion, with Ben Weinman supplying some impressive guitar leads. More fusion elements can be heard on “Surrogate” and “Honeysuckle,” which blend in seamlessly with Dillinger’s sound. “Manufacturing Discontent” is just good old-fashioned hardcore aggression that still has lots of shifting dynamics and moods. “Apologies Not Included” is one of the stronger songs on the record, with heavy riffs and catchy melodic lines that fit nicely alongside the more progressive elements. The final track, “Dissociation” is a bittersweet send-off, utilizing classical strings, ambient electronic elements and Puciatio giving a stellar and emotionally-driven vocal performance.
The Dillinger Escape Plan is a band that defies formula and that’s what has helped maintain their longevity. There will be a big hole left in the metal and hardcore scenes after their absence, but their influence and contributions to the world of contemporary music will far surpass them. Dissociation is an excellent summation of many year’s worth of groundbreaking musical innovation and is a bittersweet goodbye letter to fans. Audiences can only hope that the individual members move on to continue creating and contributing to the art world in ways that will continue to impress, innovate and inspire.