3 out of 5
Label: Party Smasher
Produced by: Steve Evetts
Dillinger Escape Plan have always interested me, but have often occupied a particular space of hardcore music that approaches something a bit more performative than I prefer. Their sound, as loud as it can be, is often very “clean,” production-wise, and lyrical/conceptual pursuits I think are sometimes beyond the reality of what’s delivered (in my snide world of judgements, this makes them sort of the Isis of the mathcore crowd). That said, I always want to hear what DEP put out, as they tend to push their approach as far as possible in whichever direction their latest work is aimed – the group’s skills / passion are never in doubt – and they undoubtedly inspire / have inspired other acts I might find more favor with, for whatever reasons, so it’s good to witness from whence that inspiration comes. From this casual listening, I have come to respect how “complete” most of their albums are: that aforementioned ‘direction’ informs a very thorough sequence of tracks, release by release; they cover the bases for whatever splinter of noise / thrash / math / etc. they’re pursuing.
On Dissociation, which would be the group’s final release, it rather feels like DEP decided to take a lap through all they’ve done before, and put a very final stamp on it. My preference is toward the utter vitriol of tracks like opener Limerent Death, but they hit it all, here – Ipecac-y operatic stuff; funk / jazz metal; broken thrash; and their remember-that-Aphex-Twin-cover instrumental bravado. Obviously this sets things slightly apart from more tonally-focused previous releases; unfortunately, that means the disc also feels a bit scattered, making it easy to fall out of attentions with it, even though the group is playing at their usual max volume.
Individual tracks are incredibly impressive. As implied, this seems kind of like a purposeful tour of their musical history, reflecting on what came before with lessons learned in the intevening years. So when I start the album from a random point, I’m impressed to the extent that I’m ready to hail Dissociation as the album that final turns me fully on to Dillinger. But a couple of songs later, I realize I’ve tuned out a bit, having lost the thread as we jump around from style to style.
Regular producer Steve Evetts keeps this all above-board: you can hear every brutal, technical detail, with vocals and drums mixed down or up to make sure the desired punctuations hit. Thus, I doubt seasoned DEP fans will be put out by this at all, and what I found a little distancing is likely a selling point – Dissociation is like a best-of, only re-recorded with all the most modern bells and whistles of which a band that was always pushing itself was capable.