Album Review: THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN Dissociation
It’s not what you’d expect, and in that sense it’s exactly what you’d expect. Therein summarizes almost every release by The Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s unpredictable music that jarringly dances around your eardrums in mechanical, almost inhuman fashion. Something that, like a puzzle, you have to sit back and examine before you really appreciate all the details.
The end times are nigh. For Dillinger anyway. Dissociation is the juggernaut farewell that we all knew would come one day, it was always just a question of when. And the album title couldn’t be more fitting: “The disconnection or separation of something from something else or the state of being disconnected.” A near total summation of the band’s career. But Dissociation is where things get really, really twisted.
It’s not Calculating Infinity part two, that’s not happening. You probably know that already but there’s likely someone out there that hasn’t heard the released single/snippets, and is frothing at the mouth for it. Dissociation has familiar aspects, yes, but if each album in Dillinger’s career were a bombshell, Dissociation is the culminating explosion and fizzle. It’s got a little bit of their whole twisted catalog but the band is also at their most experimental.
Everything starts out familiar enough, the drums give a quick kick to start out on “Limerent Death” before the rest of the band chimes in and we’re back to business. Whether it’s a cruelty or mercy to lead the listener through a song that feels just safe enough that we’re in familiar waters is up to the listener. The song has a catchy, punchy melody, it delves into the ghostly moans and aggressive spit that Greg Puciato mastered long ago, and departs with seizure inducing ferocity. Of course, you probably know this. So when “Symptom of Terminal Illness” kicks on there’s something you should know.
This is Dillinger’s slowest, moodiest album. It’s not all slow. It’s not all mood, in case you were fretting. The songs are still complex as hell, and the guitar work of Ben Weinman and newcomer Kevin Antreassin is incredibly standout. However, there is a definite feel like a few pages were torn out of the Ire Works closer “Mouth of Ghosts”, and “Phone Home” and “Unretrofied” from Miss Machine. Name drop songs and albums as I may, there’s quite a spread of past albums etched into this farewell. But snippets or blips on the radar are all they are. And when things slow, they start to weep and scheme. It’s disarming and draws you in.
Dissociation is an experiment shot in all directions. And has some of the most obvious jazz influence yet, in case there were still any doubters/deniers out there (I’ve met such people). “Wanting Not So Much As To” has some gorgeous, lush guitar in its second half really brings out these influences. Meanwhile, “Manufacturing Discontent” is one of the heaviest songs the band has ever written and comes through like a wrecking ball. “Nothing to Forget” has a spacy soundscape that brings you in along with a droning, skipping background noise and some beautiful, sometimes hectic string arrangements.
Dissociation is as schizophrenic as Dillinger have ever been. There’s never been anything to lose for the band and with this release I can only wonder what the future would have held. There is no holding back with Dissociation but it’s not the explosive finale that some were looking for. That’s not a bad thing. Making sense of the carefully constructed madness has always been one of Dillinger’s strongest points. You might not even like Dissociation the first time you hear it though. Or the second. Or the third. Give it time and give it your attention because it’s going to catch you off guard in more ways than you expected. It’s a bitter pill to swallow knowing this is the end but its effects are a worthy finale. This might be their perfect send off.