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Album Reviews : The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation

By on October 28, 2016

the-dillinger-escape-plan-dissociation-album-artThis review was fucking torture. I don’t like the album; people are going to vehemently disagree with me, or agree because they’ve always hated Dillinger. You know who you are. I’ve only met two other people who are Dillinger fans who don’t dig this album, so I’m definitely in the minority. But believe me, I tried to love this album. I tried so hard. But I couldn’t. Instead of listing what I don’t like about the album as if it’s objective fact, I’m going to provide three separate reasons as to why I don’t like the album. I’m doing this mainly because most of you have already decided I’m wrong, and I’ve got to find some conceit to make you keep reading. So feel free to hate away!

1. I’m over it.
This is least likely to be the reason. Whenever someone asks me who my favourite metal bands are, it’s always Dillinger and Meshuggah, without hesitation (favourite band overall goes to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum). I still love every other Dillinger album, and not out of some sort of nostalgic respect; I can genuinely put on every other album of theirs and find it vitalising and exciting. I also still love tech metal and noisecore; I am very excited to get my hands on the new Car Bomb CD, and Totally Unicorn only a few months ago released my favourite Australian album of the year. For it to be the case that I’m over Dillinger would mean that I am still somehow satisfied with their old music, and that I still enjoy the genre as a whole, but that somehow the familiar sound of Dillinger itself doesn’t do anything for me if it’s new. Nonsense, I say.

2. They’re over it.
Here’s what I think is actually the case, and I am aware of how much it ascribes to the band members certain things I have fucking no idea about, whatsoever. Think of this next section as an extended metaphor; the music makes it seem like the band members feel a certain way. And that way is “fucking done with it.”

If I had to describe the album in two words, it would be “tired” and “bored.” That’s what the collection of songs amount to, though every song has a few different and disparate tones that add up to that.

Firstly, the anger seems phoned in, especially in the vocals. Nowhere is this more apparent than in “Manufacturing Discontent”, when Greg let’s out an extended half-hearted warble after a nice little build up, instead of a powerful screech or a tonal bellow. Obviously it’s a stylistic choice; I’m not saying he couldn’t do a better take. I’m saying that there’s a reason he went the route he did; that he’s just, kinda, over it. All the screaming and yelling sounds fairly disinterested, as if his time in The Black Queen (who are fucking dope, you definitely should listen to them) has mellowed him out, to a point where he just doesn’t want to scream over some choppy tension chords.

Which is the second point; the songs on Dissociation fall into two camps, and neither are great.

The first camp is the “self-homage-teetering-on-self-parody.” My friend summed it up best when he said “Honeysuckle is the most 43% Burnt song since 43% Burnt.” He meant it in a good way, and while I entirely agree with him, I think it’s more indicative of a band going through the motions, producing a colour-by-number Dillinger album. No other one of their songs sounds like a version of another; while they’re undeniably always DEP tracks, they all stand or fall on their own merit. On this album, there are 43% Burnt “bits”; one whole song which is an extension but not an improvement on the techno-gabble tracks of Ire Works; “those” choppy sections; “member the emotional end of “Milk Lizard”? Yeah member?”. There are a few new moments (like the off kilter opening of “Wanting Not so Much to as To”, and the closing titular track) but most of the songs sound like, at best, fan service, and at worst, jus’ gettin’ ‘er done.

Which leaves the other type of track on the album, which is the “promising-but-unfinished-demo-of-a-Dillinger-song-in-pre-production.” So many of these songs lack a cohesion and thoughtfulness that nearly every other Dillinger album has been dripping in. And I’m not one of those “it’s just noise” metalheads. I love Dillinger. But while listening to this album, unlike every other one they’ve ever released, I found myself just “greying out” due to the mess of it all. Parts simply trail off, or linger uncomfortably, or transition with a cop-out “noise” section. The songwriting isn’t bad per se, it just sounds incomplete, like they’ve very quickly had to cover their tracks by throwing random bits of songs together and calling it finished.

All of those thing combined makes it seem like the band wanted to push this album out the door sooner than later, because they’re just, kinda… over it.

3. The master on Fugue fucks it for every other tracks.
This is the most tin-foil crank I’ve ever been, so I’m gonna need you to humour me; I have a sneaking suspicion that whoever did the master done fucked it right up, or maybe they did the best they could with a Balluo Boys mix. Now before you think that’s unpossible, there is a precedent for one track fucking an album. Five Star Prison Cell’s album Slaves Of Virgo had a track on it called “Asleep In The House Of Fables”. It was a purely clean guitar track, but it was mastered to match the rest of the album. What this means was that, when you opened the wave file, it looked like a huge block of maxed out noise, like the rest of the album did. The effect of this was that the clean guitar song sounded so much louder than the rest of the CD that it was jarring and uncomfortable. And I think a similar but inverse thing may have happened on Dillinger; in order to make sure “Fugue”, the entirely electronic gabber ecstasy-shelving headfuck track, was clear but mixed in with the rest of the songs, there were certain compromises made as to where the rest of the tracks sit in the mix and master. The end result is an album with the muddiest and most washed out guitars, and the most compressed drums, of a Dillinger album. Tell me I’m fucking wrong. The high tension-chords in the opening riff are barely noticeable. The entire album, front to back, lacks a clarity which Dillinger so desperately needs, because without it, the guitars simply are noise, instead of the dumbfounding technical wizardry we’ve come to know and love.

Fuck it, it might just be that they went with a Converge-y, Trap Them-y mix on purpose, and wanted more “aggression” than “clarity”. Whatever happened, I think the mix might be the reason I can’t seem to grab onto any part of this CD. It all just blurs for me.

And I wish it wouldn’t. I love Dillinger. I’ve loved 2016 for music, and I am most definitely going to love their final live shows. I’m just bummed because I really would have liked to go out on a positive note. But I’ve tried, and I’m not going to.

Growing up fucking sucks.


Mitch is a 26 year old vegan, socialist, atheist, utilitarian, reductionist metalhead, stand up comedian and philosophy major that hates labels. When he isn't being politely ignored at dinner parties he's being politely ignored on comedy nights around the country.