For Fans Of
Let’s start off with what I do best – long fuckin’ tangents.
When playing through Dark Souls 3 earlier this year, I couldn’t shake off this melancholic feeling I had during my time with it. All I could think was ‘Shit…this is it, the final one’. Save for two upcoming DLC expansions (one of which, Ashes of Ariandel, is so close I can almost taste it), game director/From Software head honcho, Hidetaka Miyazaki is moving on from his fabled series to work on future endeavours. Going into that game, all I could think was that there most likely won’t be anymore following this, that there will be imitators – some successful at the formula and some who fail at it miserably – and if there are more, they may not be the same. This weighed on my mind when playing through Dark Souls 3, like a cloud hanging over my head saying, nay demanding that this must be as good as it gets because this is where ‘it’ ends!
To return to the medium that KYS normally deals in, my first run through of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s ‘Dissociation’ was one of pure bliss yet further listening only allowed for reality to somewhat knockback that initial love. Wrapping up my opening tangent, just like the latest entry in the Dark Souls series, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s final outing is not their best, sadly. Yes, ‘Dissociation’ is quite the solid album, like all their records, but it doesn’t quite hit the pinnacle that prior releases such as ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’, ‘Ire Works‘ and ‘Option Paralysis’ reached.
With the band setting their own sun, they could’ve taken a couple different directions to ride off in. For instance, they could’ve simply churned out a record full of songs like ‘Prancer’, ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’, ‘43% Burnt’ and it would be great, or they could’ve ditched their established sound and gone really out there with their final batch of tunes. Yet ‘Dissociation’ lands somewhere in between those two extremes. Yes, this is The Dillinger Escape Plan many know and love. Ergo, one can expect the heavy, rhythmically chaotic instrumentals, the angular guitar riffs, the vast technical method to the band’s musical madness, and the powerhouse vocal deliveries. But much like Drew Goddard’s terrific horror comedy, Cabin In The Woods, let’s wade through the average first before we reach the really good stuff.
Firstly, opener ‘Limerent Death’ is the kind of stock standard cacophony the band produces and while good, it just fails to amaze me like some of the deeper cuts here do. The lengthy ‘Wanting Not So Much‘ is such a mixed bag that I forgot it in a heartbeat upon each and every listen, save for the killer drum fills halfway through. The dynamic and the emotionally serene middle section of ‘Nothing To Forget’ is just surreal but it’s a shame that the band then returns to their typical heavy sound to wrap up the track, a feeling of which I can only equate to musical blue balls. ‘Low Feels Blvd’ is one-half metal, one-half jazz and it’s the latter that really steals the show, so much so that I just wished that it was a full jazz piece instead. Then we have the very best of the worst, ‘Honey Suckle’, which again brings in their jazz sound but it interweaves between it and their usual mathcore/hardcore sound at such a rapid pace that it’s immensely jarring and also distracting. But like being stuck with a prime minister that you didn’t vote for, you learn to deal with it and move on. Furthermore, ‘Honey Suckle’ provides some of the best riffs you’ll find amongst these 11 tracks, but sadly, riffs aren’t quite everything.
Now, while those aforementioned songs aren’t necessarily bad songs per say, we now stand before the brightest of this bunch. The dark and ominous tone of ‘Symptom Of Terminal Illness’ is just captivating, as is the glitchy, electronic instrumental of ‘Fugue‘, which sounds like a Death Grips instrumental, and is one of the few big curveball tracks you’ll find here. ‘Surrogate’ is one of the punchiest, heavier tracks of the whole lot and it’s use of fluctuating and impactful dynamics also keeps the proceedings fresh. It also has some of Greg Puciato’s nastiest vocal deliveries to date (something which I’ll miss dearly unless Killer Be Killed do another record.) Getting back on track, the crunchy ‘Manufacturing Discontent‘ and the unrelenting nature of ‘Apologies Not Included‘ – whose title feels like a nod to their break up announcement – also respectively fall into the good books too.
At this point, you’ve had five terrific songs and five merely decent ones, but now you arrive at the eponymous track – the swan song of ‘Dissociation‘ – and it’s here that you reach the highest peak of the record. The mournful strings, the industrial electronics, Puciato’s dulcet vocals, (that seem like they’d fit with The Black Queen than anything else), Billy Rymer’s exceptional drumming and the prominent lyric of “Finding a way to die alone” all creates this bittersweet, uniquely potent track that’s also hits the album’s finest moment.
Some may argue that I’m maybe not giving ‘Dissociation‘ the credit it “deserves” and thus, doing the band a disservice to their career and lasting legacy. Well, to that I say that’s fucking bollocks! Just because this is their final record doesn’t mean they get a free pass and that it shouldn’t be held to the same standards as their other releases, most of which go well and truly above this offering. However, what is worth mentioning is that much like Bane, Expire, and to some extent, Brand New, (without the screwing around of their fanbase like Brand New does), Dillinger are indeed choosing to end things on their own terms, and that’s commendable and this is their last gift to us in a way.
Of course, we’ll always have TDEP’s music – both this and their past releases, unless the Internet goes tits up soon – as well as the members varying side-projects to muse over and enjoy. But knowing that The Dillinger Escape Plan, as an entity, is no longer touring, performing live, or writing music as a unit is a saddening fact that cannot be shaken off and their absence will be felt wide and far within the heavy music scene.
I often scoff at the idea that you cannot beat those that came before, whether they be the original archetype or not, because sometimes things just do not age as good as they should have. Yet in The Dillinger Escape Plan’s case, they have aged incredibly well since 1997, and very few bands can hold a candle to their name and their achievements. With ‘Dissociation’, while definitely not their best record, they have still capped off a terrific legacy. However, I am docking points for guitarist Ben Weinman’s comment that they, “wanted to pull a Seinfeld and go out while we’re still on top“. Cause that’s some bullshit; Seinfeld was never good!
- Limerent Death
- Symptom Of Terminal Illness
- Wanting Not So Much
- Low Feels Blvd
- Honey Suckle
- Manufacturing Disconnect
- Apologies Not Included
- Nothing To Forget
‘Disassociation’ is out October 14th through Party Smasher Inc/Cooking Vinyl.