The Dillinger Escape Plan – ‘Dissociation’

By Glen Bushell

Being together for nearly 20 years is a long time for any band, especially when you have the workhorse mentality of The Dillinger Escape Plan. Each record they release is a lesson in reinvention, not just for the band, but also for heavy music as a whole. With ‘Dissociation’, their sixth full-length album, being billed as the band’s final LP, The Dillinger Escape Plan don’t need to prove anything, only ensure they go out in a blaze of glory.

Their legacy will always remain long after they leave, but how can they possibly sign off on two decades of chaos and destruction? Simple: just be The Dillinger Escape Plan and do exactly what they do best. ‘Dissociation’ doesn’t find the New Jersey masters of madness running out of ideas, but rounds off a sound that has been taken as far as they can up to this point. It draws elements from each pole of their iconic back-catalogue, serving as a conclusion to the maniacal thesis they started writing in 1997.

With no time for a mood-setting build, lead single, ‘Limerent Death’, comes careening out of the stocks with bottom end riffs that could smash through walls, giving way to the vintage, erratic guitar leads of Ben Weinman’s unique playing style. The nihilistic ‘Wanting Not So Much To As To’ harks back to the bang-and-burn ferocity of ‘Calculating Infinity’, while ‘Honey Suckle’ cascades from a cacophonous hail of breakdowns and burst beats into colossal, powerful choruses.

Greg Puciato uses his diverse attack to great effect once more. From blistering screams and Mike Patton-esque shrieks, to a soulful croon and hushed spoken tone. ‘Symptom Of Terminal Illness’ shakes and shimmers like a distorted Wurlitzer, only breaking into searing walls of noise for dramatic tension when needed. It provides a platform for Puciato to work his magic. However, on ‘Nothing To Forget’ he puts in his best vocal performance since their 2007 album, ‘Ire Works’. When Dillinger are at their most simplistic musically, Puciato is pushed further into the spotlight. His range is nothing short of jaw dropping.

In typical fashion of this versatile musical enigma, The Dillinger Escape Plan still find ways to surprise a listener. ‘Low Feels Blvd’ dives from a metallic hail of dissonance into a smooth, jazz-rock shuffle that oozes cool, and only they could throw in a classic fusion break in the middle of ‘Surrogate’ and make it work.

It is with a mournful swansong in the shape of the album’s title track, ‘Dissociation’, that they bring this whirling dervish to a thematic close. Over electronic beats laced with weeping strings, Puciato declares, “I need a way to die alone” as the treacle-thick ballad dissipates into the ether.

As with any release of this nature, there is still that lingering confusion between the terms “extended hiatus” and “final album”. What the future holds following ‘Dissociation’ is still unwritten, but if this is to be their end, then it is such an end. If the door is either left ajar or fully closed, it is another memorable landmark in the history of The Dillinger Escape Plan.

GLEN BUSHELL

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