Published Oct 12, 2016After nearly 20 years spent pushing, pulling, coaxing, battering, tweaking and otherwise forcibly evolving the forms metal can take on, the Dillinger Escape Plan appear to be calling it a day. But, like they've done all along, they're doing it completely on their own terms.
Befitting the swansong of such a monumentally important band, Dissociation is an outright masterpiece, referencing every point in the band's consistently stunning discography while breaking more new ground than they have since Ire Works.
2013's One of Us Is the Killer stripped down and compressed the band's muscular, grinding aggression into crusty nuggets of brutality with deceptively shiny cores; they honed that aspect of their sound like the sword of a fictional samurai. The tightness, the focus of that album, was ludicrous, seemingly taken as far as it could go, but "Limerent Death," the opening track and lead single from Dissociation, immediately proves that notion wrong, inserting just a little more playful eccentricity into the riffs and melodic swagger into Pucciato's vocal approach without shattering the premise of the song's ostensible genre.
After proving they can still easily top themselves at their own game, Dillinger proceed to do whatever the fuck they want throughout the rest of Dissociation — and it's glorious. "Symptom of Terminal Illness" injects hauntingly pretty atmospheric and taps into the band's epic and brooding side before things go ape-shit on "Wanting Not So Much As To." It's the band at their frantic, twitchy, schizophrenic best, but also smoother and more weirdly charismatic, even, than anything they did with Mike Patton's manic genius behind the mic.
If you expect the tone of the album to be even slightly established now, you couldn't be more off-base. "Fugue" is straight-up demented IDM, of a calibre that wouldn't sound out of place on an Aphex Twin or Venetian Snares album. Things don't get explicitly weirder than that, but the album retains a sense of wild abandonment and the freedom to explore any avenues of sound that lure their yen while still clearly bearing the creative signature of Ben Weinman and his talented cohorts.
"Low Feels Blvd" gets as overtly King Crimson/Opeth-proggy as the band ever have without neglecting to stab the track full of extra bits of fuzzy sonic shrapnel; "Surrogate" continues to up the ante with layer upon layer of attitude and texture, piled upon a vicious foundation of mathcore/jazz strobing; "Honeysuckle" flirts with rockabilly jazz licks and drops one of the band's biggest, deepest breakdowns, given a gut-rumbling boost by excellent production.
The attention to detail in the engineering and mixing is dizzying (sometimes literally) and has immense impact on the feel of the album. Dillinger are striving for, and achieving, overall sound artistry here as intentional and immersive as anything from the worlds of art-rock, pop or electronic music. "Manufacturing Discontent," "Apologies Not Included" and "Nothing To Forget" are all fantastic journeys through prodigiously inventive song structures and meticulously detailed soundscapes that continue to surprise until the last beat, alien guitar note or beautiful cello swell.
Then, in a gesture of ultimate freedom, the album, and a near-peerless legacy, is capped by the most gorgeous composition the group have ever offered. The title track, with swooning strings, etheric effects, soaring, elastic vocal melodies and complicated, skittering beats, is closer to Björk than anything Dillinger have done before.
Only an asshole could find fault with this record; there's no value in nitpicking an achievement this consummately professional, laboriously crafted and creatively uninhibited. If this truly is the end for Dillinger Escape Plan, they've ended things by throwing down the gauntlet with such force that the reverberations will be felt for generations. (Party Smasher Inc./Cooking Vinyl)