10 stars

1997 to 2016. 5 albums and 4 EPs of some of the rawest, most innovative and shock-and-awe-inducing compositions readily available.  At the beginning of August, we were all collectively handed the shit-sandwich of bad news that this is the beginning of the end of The Dillinger Escape Plan. Sad times are on the horizon, but with it comes the swan-song album, the finalé of their avant-garde, jazz infusion math.

Personally, I wasn’t ready to hear this. What with the news of The Dillinger Escape Plans’ demise back in August, life is that little bit bleaker, less enticing and to put it bluntly, grey. You might be able to tell that I’m a hardcore TDEP fan, based on my previous reaction.

Dissociation, the potential final full-length album before their ‘extended hiatus’. Their swan-song LP. The finalé? Let’s hope not, but if it is I can tell you this:

This is the best Dillinger Escape Plan Album.

There, I said it. Hopefully, you read this before you hear the album and curse at my writing. I know what you’d be saying too, I’ve already told myself that I’m wrong. Option Paralysis has always been my favourite. A psychedelic, spastic full-frontal assault neatly packed into an LP, with additional gut-wrenching melodies complete with a side order of gentle-to-mental shocks to the core. But as I’ve listened to Dissociation again and again, I’ve hit my conclusion at 900 mph.

The dawn of Dissociation chimes at “Limerent Death“, the most familiar hitter on the record and could easily be placed on 2013’s One of Us is a Killer. This isn’t a criticism, “Limerent Death” hits exactly the right amount of experimentation that you’d want from a TDEP single, but after this track is where this gets real interesting.

“Symptom of Terminal Illness”. Haunting and harsh with the sombre lull of a Patton-esque Puciato in a realm we have never witnessed him in before with a stellar result. A real Faith No More/Black Sabbath vibe dwells here. Don’t get too comfy in the grim melodic atmosphere as you are about to be pillaged by “Wanting Not So Much As To“. The Dillinger checklist is happy here; chaos in mathcore, check. Classically-styled melodies, check. Billy Rhymer’s signature jazz solo, check. The odd homage to another great artist that you sometimes notice, check (in this case we see a spoken word piece that could be lifted from a Metallica album.)

SHOCK AND AWE! “Fugue”. This is hard to describe without you having heard it. It’s a Dillinger track sure, but similar to the style of Aphex Twin. I won’t go on, this has to be heard.

We return to our Dillinger sound for “Low Feels Blvd“. Once again this isn’t for bad facts,
don’t fix what ain’t broken (then TDEP will come break it anyway). This is a sheer adrenaline surge with a neatly delivered 80’s fusion solo. Finger-twitchers will adore “Surrogate”, featuring amongst Dillinger’s signature stylings one of the most immovable riffs on the album. Headbanging ensues. Scratchy, chirpy guitars and the thunderous bass intensity of Liam Wilson are core elements to “Honeysuckle”. “Manufacturing Discontent” is a slamming groove through and through, mostly lead by Billy Rhymer’s truly unique approach to the genre and the hell he is dealt from Weinman’s frankly disturbed mind. “Apologies Not Included” falls into this familiar trio of classic Dillinger songs, featuring another intense set of chug-before-doom math moments. Here lay the 3 weakest of the album, but only for the fact that they sit well in the formula we know whilst the rest of Dissociation gives a fresh example of why TDEP aren’t just a mathcore band, but a group of composers carefully crafting the scene of the album.

The Dillinger Escape Plan are known for having their catchier songs – “Black Bubblegum”, “Milk Lizard”, “Unretrofied”, “One of Us is the Killer” – and this is another avenue that sets them apart from their peers and their copycat counterparts. Dissociation doesn’t have these. Dissociation has “Nothing To Forget” & the title track, “Dissociation“.

“Nothing to Forget” is something that NO OTHER TDEP SONG IS; vulnerable. The throttle isn’t burning to the full extent – with rock-styled drums kicking off the party whilst the string boys bring their A-Game and Greg carefully interchanges between his versatile range, hitting all of your favourite Greg moments… then. “Please let me be by myself/ I don’t need anything” comes and goes, each time becoming agitated, worrisome, frightening. The track takes to string sections as Billy teases alongside Greg’s lullaby and finishes with us all (I assume you’ll be singing along with me, GFTO if not) bellowing  “Please let me be by myself/ I don’t need anything”. Again. Again. Again…

What could potentially be the last Dillinger Escape Plan song concludes?

“Oh?” You say? “But isn’t this an 11-track?” in question. Yes, it is but “Dissociation” is not to be associated with the brutality we’ve witnessed on this journey. Anyone that has heard Greg’s side-project The Black Queen could easily have thought this was their doing. Melancholy holds together this beautiful piece of composition. Strings, synth bass and simplistic but powerful drumming head the end of this industrial piece whilst the final whisper carrying you to demise from Greg repeats “Finding a way to die alone.” Fin.

I feel alone. I stand by my statement. This is the best album the band has ever done. Goodbye dear friend, you are unmatched and, if this truly be the end, forgiven.

Written by Harry Davies


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