The Dillinger Escape Plan
14th October 2016 - Party Smasher Inc.
01. Limerent Death
02. Symptom Of Terminal Illness
03. Wanting Not So Much To As To
05. Low Feels Blvd
07. Honey Suckle
08. Manufacturing Discontent
09. Apologies Not Included
10. Nothing To Forget
So it’s come to this.
After five studio albums, a clutch of EPs, a small army of ex-members and a trail of total fucking destruction in venues across the globe, we have reached The Dillinger Escape Plan’s final hour. In characteristically Dillinger fashion, they have chosen to go out with a bang rather than a whimper, bringing their career to a close on entirely their own terms. As hard as this may be to swallow, especially for the legions of die-hard fans, frankly we should have expected nothing less.
Lead single “Limerent Death” kicks off Dissociation in a typically incandescent fashion – the aural equivalent of being attacked by hornets whilst trapped on a runaway mountain train. The track’s outro sees vocalist Greg Puciato descending into madness on a repeated refrain of “I gave you everything you wanted. You were everything to me” as the band swiftly shifts up through the gears with each repetition.
From there onwards, Dillinger range freely across the landscape they have created for themselves. Second track “Symptom of Terminal Illness” is a twisted anthem, infected with a kind of futile hope. “Fugue” is a glitchy breakbeat instrumental freakout, and “Low Feels Boulevard” bookends a warped, psychedelic mid-section with pure fury on either side. “Surrogate” is slow and predatory, and “Nothing To Forget” comes augmented by a string section, of all things.
But no matter where they roam, a trademark jagged, bile-spitting, invective-laden maelstrom – or, indeed, a big memorable chorus – is never far away. Once again, they have delivered a white-knuckle thrill ride that is as cathartic as it is exciting.
Dissociation proves that The Dillinger Escape Plan were never going to grow old gracefully, which in turn confirms that however difficult it may be to swallow the fact that they’re throwing in the towel, it’s ultimately the right decision. They’ve been at it just a little too long to say they’re dying young, but they’re still going to leave a ruggedly good-looking corpse, with a few interesting battle scars.
If there’s an uncomfortable truth lurking in Dissociation, it’s that it is the first Dillinger album that doesn’t really expand their template. For all its variety, it doesn’t contain any huge surprises. Which may make the band a victim of their own success – creating a situation where anything could happen means that’s exactly what people now expect. Of course Ben Weinman’s riffs sound like they’re right on the brink of falling over themselves one minute and are slinky, jazzy chords the next. Of course Billy Rymer’s drum rhythms are head-spinning. Of course Greg’s lyrics lodge in your head and are tailor-made to be screamed back at him from the pit. Drawing the band to a close at this stage is strongly reminiscent of post-metal titans Isis doing similar in 2010, and there are parallels between their final album, Wavering Radiant, and Dissociation.
Calling Dissociation ‘just another Dillinger album’ would be damning it with faint praise, but equally it’s clear that whilst they aren’t scraping the bottom of the inspiration barrel just yet, they were getting increasingly close to it. That they chose to stop before they started getting splinters is a decision to be commended as much as it is to be mourned.
The album’s title track serves as the band’s literal swansong, closing the album in muted, ambient tones, with that string section introduced on “Nothing To Forget” replacing the guitars completely, ending with a final repeated refrain from Greg of “Finding a way to die alone.” Dillinger have left the building.
But, of course, there’s still one item of unfinished business. Following Dissociation’s release, Dillinger will complete one more touring lap of the globe, giving their legions of adoring fans one more opportunity to see these genuinely pioneering godfathers of an entire scene in the manner in which God intended – tearing up stages drenched in blood and sweat.
For those of us – like the person sat at this keyboard – who have been along for the whole ride since Calculating Infinity, it is a bittersweet moment. The Dillinger Escape Plan are a truly remarkable, ground-breaking band whose legacy is sure to live long and stand proud. Dissociation is a glorious and fitting final chapter to their recorded output.
Once last chance to dance. Let’s make it count.