Album Review: Dissociation - The Dillinger Escape Plan
By Declan Sherry
If you’re reading this, there’s a high probability you’re more than well aware this is a review of the final Dillinger Escape Plan record. By the time they play their final show (and they’re always one to put on a show) the band will have been going strong for two decades, and with sixth offering aptly titled Dissociation, the boys don’t disappoint! Dillinger are be going out on top of their game for sure.
Dissociation kicks off straight into chaotic, mathy number “Limerent death”, with Ben Weinman’s guitar work and Greg Puciato’s raspy vocals tearing into you from the outset. It’s a great showcase of the sound Dillinger have crafted for themselves from the outset, clearly a great choice in opener for the record. This doesn’t last for long however as the four minute rib-rattler dies out, and “Symptom of Terminal Illness” fades in with a rather Ghost-(B.C)-esque effect on the strings, before Puciato begins to channel an Ozzy like banger. One of a few personal favourites of the record for myself, everything about the track is haunting, from the electronics low down in the mix to the instrumentation and Puciato’s vocals and lyrics; an all round stonker in my certified opinion.
“Symptom of Terminal Illness” however is only a brief lulling track before the band collectively punch you in the gut with “Wanting Not so Much to as To” until the track descends on the back of more mathy chaos and a solo to boot into a personally retrospective spoken word piece. Following on from here we get yet another taste of Dillinger’s experimental take on their craft with “Fugue”. From their cover of Massive Attack’s “Angel”, and Aphex Twin’s “Come to Daddy” you can hear both pieces somewhat reverberate in Fugue, yet having heard these two songs, “Fugue” somewhat threw me off still upon first listen, but it’s a brilliant instrumental piece and keeps the album flowing well.
More standard Dillinger style math-chaos flows ensues again with “Low Feels Blvd”, before the track calms down to give way to a jazz solo, backed by trumpets and vocal effects low down in the mix before Puciato’s vocals once again puncture through into your ear drums. “Surrogate” follows nearly seamlessly with more of the same, as well as “Honeysuckle”. This isn’t a criticism of the record, each track has it’s own vibe aside from Dillinger’s standard math based splendor, while the basic elements of what makes Dillinger who they are, each track has it’s own vibe, spanning multiple genres.
This being said, the album drops off slightly over the course of the next two tracks for me personally in terms of innovation, “Manufacturing Discontent” and “Apologies Not Included” (thought I will apologise for this next statement) appear to be the more bland of the Dissociation’s offerings. Both have parts that are very familiar with other tracks on the album at times, and others within their back catalogue, not necessarily a bad thing, they’re great tracks however they fall short of what the rest of the album is achieving from my perspective.
Now for not just the album’s penultimate track, but what seems to be that of Dillinger’s for good, and it’s a good one. “Nothing to Forget” starts with a heavily effects laden guitar riff that lies under the rest of the band as the piece builds up to the first chorus that gives one of the catchier offerings of Dissociation. Lyrically the track is exposed, gritty and raw and the music accompanying a grandiose show case of Puciato’s vocal range accompanies this perfectly. “Nothing to Forget” is another personal highlight for me, if you’ve not heard Dillinger before and want a case of the feels and an earworm with the form of hook “Please let me be by myself, I don’t need anything” I’d recommend this as it shows brilliantly who the band are.
And here we are with title track Dissociation, and potential final piece. The song starts off with a strings segment that I can’t help have the imagery of the group playing as the Titanic sank, however unlike the ship, the band are going out with a band, I guess they have that in common with the gangster they hold the moniker of. “Dissociation” is the most held back piece of the album, and is a rather sombre one at that with Puciato’s repetitive crooning of “finding a way to die alone” is a haunting end of an era for a band that got me into metal as I started high school (middle school if this has made its way across the pond).
The album is bittersweet; it’s a superb album by a truly innovative band that have had an effect that will outlive them and many of the bands they have inspired, however it is sadly their final album so I know I won’t be getting the pleasure of new music from them again or the chance of reviewing another Dillinger piece. The highlights of the album for me lie in both the starting final two tracks, and when combined give a great insight into what this band can really do.