Whatever the quality of Dissociation, The Dillinger Escape Plan exit the world of metal leaving behind one of the finest back catalogues of the Millennium. But even though previous album One Of Us Is The Killer was full of excellent songs, it had got to the point where the open-mouthed awe with which people reacted to the groundbreaking Calculating Infinity had now become the expectation. It’s like watching a magician who has made a career out of card tricks; despite being impressed the trick worked, there was no doubt in your mind that he’d reveal your card.
So can The Dillinger Escape Plan focus themselves to shock us one last time? Opener Limerent Death treads familiar ground: radical rhythmic gear changes, technically impenetrable riffs and a screeching, vicious vocal delivery by Greg Puciato. It’s typically Dillinger, typically brilliant, but only a warning of what’s to come. Second track Symptom Of Terminal Illness starts with the sound of cranking mechanical gears, but quickly slips into a woozy, dreamy waltz, complete with the faintest sound of bagpipes in the periphery, that has as much to do with The Cure as it does anything remotely ‘mathcore’.
Four tracks in, Fugue is an electronic instrumental that could sit easily on an album by Aphex Twin or U.N.K.L.E.; it’s an element Dillinger have touched on before without ever completely allowing themselves to indulge in as they do here. Manufacturing Discontent melds drum and bass beats, a Nine Inch Nails-style ethereal quality and the industrialised grind of Steve Albini’s Big Black at their most nihilistic. Nothing To Forget starts with a 70s rock guitar riff, before taking in Bond theme strings on the way to its furious climax. It’s almost as if, in knowing that this would be their final opportunity, DEP have gone that extra mile to reinvent themselves one last time.
While, as ever, Ben Weinman will take immense credit for having one of the most instantly recognisable guitar tones and styles in contemporary music, bassist Liam Wilson deserves enormous credit for his part in accepting the almost thankless task of pinning Ben and drummer Billy Rymer’s ingenuity and flights of fancy together. But the star of the show here is Greg. Exhibiting the same melodic range as he did on his recent project The Black Queen’s Fever Daydream album, he somehow manages to raise the level of intensity on his screamed vocals to the point where he often sounds genuinely deranged, as if he’s tearing his demons from his vocal cords. You wonder if even former Dillinger collaborator Mike Patton could have done a better job.
Listening to Dissociation you realise that some of the experiments The Dillinger Escape Plan have previously made were only scratching the surface, and that this genuinely might be their creative high point. Rather than go out on one final primal roar, the closing title track is a smooth, electronic, orchestral ballad. It’s a final surprise in a career packed full of surprises. They had our card all along… just how did they do that?
BEN WEINMAN (GUITARS)
IS THIS DILLINGER GOING OUT ON TOP?
“Most of it was written before we decided to make it the last album. But one of the things that’s changed in me over the last few years is I now have a more centred disposition, and I know I’m good at Dillinger.
I felt we all had the tools to make this record what it was.”
SO NO OUTSIDE INFLUENCES PUSHING THE BAND IN A CERTAIN DIRECTION THEN?
“No. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about us. We’re going to make the best Dillinger record we can. I knew we were going to do what we do better than anyone.”
IS THIS YOUR MOST AMBITIOUS ALBUM
“I think so. It’s emotional and angry. But, in splitting up, we wanted to give this band a happy ending. And I think this album is that happy ending.”