The Dillinger Escape Plan EP - Now Or Never 1997
And that's what this CD doesn't sound like. Maybe some day I'll tell you what it DOES sound like!
Okay, here are some quick soundbites for your news broadcast:
1. More of a brain teaser than a soul pleaser.
2. More intriguing to the mind than catchy to the behind.
3. More sick, strangled Voivody chords than heterosexual men in the House of Lords.
As you can see, I've made a hilarious "fag" joke about a British organization I know nothing about. This soundbite would fit perfectly into any upcoming "comedy" broadcasts you might have planned.
Under The Running Board EP - Relapse 1998
So you see, the Dillinger Escape Plan don't make very good "make-out" music. The singer constantly screams at the top of his hoarse aggressive lungs (plus his name is "Dimitri"), the guitarists (for they have two guitarists now!) burn and slash away at ridiculously strange, mangled chords and faster-than-daylight note runs, and the drummer (Oh! The drummer!) plays at quite literally One Billion Miles Per Hour, changing tempo, time-signature and playing style more times in 30 seconds than an IBM Supercomputer specially programmed to change tempo, time-signature and playing style several times every 30 seconds. And Mr., that's "many"!
The overall result is a relentless power drill blast of hydro-metallic-hardcore that constantly herks, stops, starts, speeds up, slows down, screams, taunts, rocks, drones and trudges, all while exciting the left brain's engineering faculties. Wanna build a rocket spaceship? Buy a Dillinger Escape Plan album! I did, and now I'm in prison for setting fire to an entire state!
This particular three-song EP is the beginning of the Dillinger Escape Plan as you should know them by now. 7 1/2 minutes of gut-eating mathmetalcore with awesomely loud production and fearsomely perfectionist playing. There's still some death metal riffing in their sound, but they're moving ever forward in pursuit of difficult King Crimson-style lead guitar lines, axe interplay in each speaker kicking each other's asses, spooky riffery, quieter clickety parts, warped leads, blastbeats, chuggle-chuggle rhythms, quieter Slint-like dreamy moments - all within the space of like twenty seconds! Intellectually challenging (and fast fast fast), the changes are constant, but (unlike most death metal) constantly exciting. It's a real mindbender - heavy, intense and packed full of technical data and seemingly pointless stylistic shifts. For example, "Sandbox Magician" has a jazzy guitar bit in the left speaker for like 4 of the first 7 seconds and that's IT! It never comes back! And they do that kind of thing a LOT -- like a very quick slip into prog music for 3 seconds, then back to POUNDING and SCREAMING at you with their intense as a bowling bowl, heartpounding high-speed math-metal giganticism.
Some of the death metal riffs are a little tired (which can hurt the overall quality of such a teeny release), but I suppose most of them are over so quickly it's kind of petty to complain about it.
Oh! That reminds me - Tom Petty writes all their songs and sings lead. Wait til you hear Calculating Infinity's show-stopper "Peace In L.A. '02"!
* Calculating Infinity - Relapse 1999 *
Pterodactyls roamed the land for hundreds and hundreds of days before Man climbed out of the sea and speared all of them dead with his trusty spear. And that very same Man continues to rule the food chain even today, bravely tearing apart vicious bobcats with his bare hands in order that he might eat and make leather socks. This is the Man what developed to his full artistic and intellectual peaks in time to record Calculating Infinity.
Calculating Infinity. Say it to yourself. Let each syllable roll slowly off your tongue. Mix up the letters so it says "Lactating Finiculi NY." Now, think about that. Think about how that must feel - to have your chest suddenly purge forth an entire gallon of milk right in the middle of your Little Italy musical showcase. This is what I mean. This is what I'm TALKING about, people. Ants? Fuck ants! This has nothing to do with ants!!!
In 1999, a group of ants went into the studio to record the follow-up to the Down On The Cherry Grill EP by The Diligent Esperanto Plan. Nobody thought they could defeat the demons of the sophomore slump curse, but luckily it was their third record so they could enjoy the healthful fruits of the junior jalopy blessing. One change had to be made though - we all knew it even at the time. Remember that new second guitar player guy that came in on the last one? No thanks. I mean, that guy BLEW. So we replaced him with this new guy, then I wrote a bunch of songs and here we are: Mark Prindle (w/ backing band the Dillinger Escape Plan)'s Calculating Infinity.
Although the name of the album DOES give some insight into its intensive math-metal leanings, a more appropriate title might be Calculating Infinity So Goddamned Quickly That You Can't Even Follow The Changes As A Listener - How The Hell Do WE Do It As Musicians!? I don't know. I listen to these songs -- the timings in which they choose to play the rhythm guitar blasts between beats, the neakbreck stops, starts, switches into triple-speed harmonic lead note runs, sudden shifts between genre, back and forth faster and slower -- and think to yourself, "Jesus Pipe! Do these guys spend every single second onstage just COUNTING, COUNTING, COUNTING!?"
And by counting, I mean counting beats. The term "math-metal" basically applies to music that forces the musicians to constantly count beats in order to play the song correctly. In the case of the Dillinger Escape Plan, this means that their drummer may be playing 7 beats in a row before repeating (rather than the usual 4 or 8), but the guitarists might be playing in a pattern of hitting chords only on the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 9th and 17th beat before repeating. So they really have to concentrate and count the beats that happen when they're NOT playing so they won't miss their time to come back in. It's difficult enough to do this when your drummer is playing at a normal healthy tempo, but THIS guy plays 80 bagillion miles an hour! How in the FRUCK do the guitarists keep up with him!?!? I mean, this isn't a matter of strumming back and forth as fast as you can like a punk guitarist; this is a matter of keeping your brain so exercised that it can not only count very, very quickly but can also remember to make the hand or fingers strike the strings on the right numbers (beats) every time through. Add to that the fact that every DEP song changes tempos and parts 89 hundred times in two minutes (thus further taxing the old brainstem and its wrinkly friends), and it is absolutely ASTONISHING that these songs exist, let alone are enjoyable to listen to. Overdubs be darned, they played these songs LIVE! Do they have memories made out of glue or something!? I'm lucky if I remember to pack a big fake dick in my pants in the morning!
One thing I've neglected to mention in all of my praise of the band's musical choppes is that the lyrics don't make any sense.
The death metal riffery is almost completely gone, leaving behind a uniquely DEPPY style of hyperactive drill-bit metalcore. And sure, let's all be honest with one another, after a while the songs all kinda run together, but that's why you have to listen CLOSELY. There are many, many things going on in each song, but you really have to pay attention because these are difficult, high-speed, aggressive compositions. And the CD as a whole is UNRELENTING. (Or RELENTLESS, if you prefer phrasing it that way). Also, this CD is NONRELENTFUL. A nonstop assault on your senses and mind.
Also, it's RELENTFREE.
I'll tell you something, as far as descriptors go. A lot of the opening riffs are essentially little one-chord math puzzles going "JUG-JUG-JUG. JUG-JUG. JUG-JUG-JUG-JUG. JUG." in various numerical orders, but they're still cool to listen to -- such abrasive blasts of speedy, PISSED OFF, technically astounding guitar chordery and countery. To the untrained bra, the songs sound like absolute chaos -- but they're actually planned and perfected to the microsecond. Insanely talented band. Nearly every track changes 400,000,000 times, turning corners at speeds so fast your head would snap off your neck if stereos were cars (or available in cars). It's an amazing feat even if it's impossible to remember how any of the songs go!
Here are a few fun snippets to listen for, if you're having trouble working your way through the overfast blasts of gast(rointestinal fluid):
"43% Burnt" - Listen closely for a couple of short prog and jazz moments, plus an insane chord sequence!
"*#.." - This is a "respite" from the madness, with its slow windy intro, booming beat and nervous jittery riff
"Destro's Secret" - More intense, brooding, exploding, pounding screaming insanity!!! (w/ a jazzy part)
"The Running Board" - Upswooping chords, insane metalcore -- with a dark WESTERN break! A change that LASTS! An actual MELODY! I can't remember how it goes, but theoretically I COULD! If I wasn't such a DUMBASS!
"Calculating Infinity" - Jesus Lizard-style tension and release, but more challenging (by a damn sight)
"4th Grade Dropout" - Check that melody break in the middle! That's straight out of an EMO song!
"Weekend Sex Change" - The only other "respite" on this 11-track masturpiece, this well-titled piece is nonetheless a bit unremarkable. Dark arpeggiated intro into dark moody ambient synths. Experimental and kinda dull. Samples from TV. The beginning and ending are good, but I don't turn to the Dillinger Escape Plan for ambient respites, any more than I turn to Brian Eno for hardcore punk or Phil Collins for a song that doesn't suck its own dick out of my ass.
I declare this CD the pinnacle of angry screaming metalcore! Or at least A pinnacle. Check this out -- I now own my very own copies of The Toolbox Murders, The New York Ripper, Maniac, Men Behind The Sun and Driller Killer!!! And last night I saw I Dismember Mama!!! Can somebody send me a copy of Last House On Dead End Street? Come on! It's thirty damned dollars!!! What am I, made out of money???
Well yes, I am. But you're up Butts Ass Creek if you think I'm gonna pay my whole damned ankle for a frick-frackin' movie picture! (You asshole!)
I saw a live performance of the DEP on TV the other day and I was really amazed. Those guys don't look like they need to concentrate on the counting all the time. Actually they don't seem to count at all, they just bang their heads and rock. Still they play everything as accurate as on the albums. Extremely cool.
Cursed, Unshaven and Misbehavin': Live Infinity 7"- Relapse 2003
Ha indeed! Side one's a hilarious idea, and side two sounds like that old Mad Magazine record "It's A Super-Spectacular Day" that has eight different endings depending on which groove the needle falls into. Yes, the Dillinger Escape Plan has truly outdone itself with this creative effort.
Unfortunately, the actual recording sounds like horse piss baked in a pie of baby phlegm. It's so muddy and bassy that all the intricacies are lost. The band is clearly playing as tight as a nun's left ball, but the details are blowing in a foggy cave of wind and rain, soaring to the east towards a new and better life.
"Dillinger Escape Plan" was actually the answer to a Music Trivia question I got at Piano's last night, so good work guys! You've truly arrived! After Music Trivia was Karaoke, at which I performed Yes' "Love Will Find A Way" (largely in death metal cookie monster voice, though I did return to Jon Anderson falsetto for the pivotal "Here is my heart, waiting for you/Here is my ASS!" gag), AC/DC's "Sink The Pink" (with so much ridiculous energy, verve and screaming that I wound up completely nauseated by the end and had to go throw up in the bathroom) and The Cars' "Since You're Gone" (largely while lying face down on the floor of the club, although I did get up and hide behind a curtain at one point). The wife of me tore a hole in life with spirited renderings of The Sound Of Music's "The Goatherd Song" and Laura Branigan's "Gloria," and Mr. Jim Laakso kicked out the fucks motherjammers with Coven's "One Tin Soldier" and Conway Twitty's "Slow Hand."
So good work, Dillinger Escape Plan! You've "escaped" a "dillinger" something something.
Irony Is A Dead Scene EP (with Mike Patton) - Epitaph 2002
That was my important message for the day. Now on to the ass jokes!
In the early 2000s, Greekly-named Dimitri Staphylococcus, lead singer for gospel trio The Dillinger Escape Plan, informed his two guitarists, bassist, ass and drummer that he could no longer devote such a sizable portion of his daily existence to screaming at people. His band members reacted politely, some would say nonchalantly -- but they'd be WRONG. Oh, there were feelings involved. We've all had loved ones leave our bands, and it hurts. However, the world is full of fish in the sea, and any one of those fish could become our new lead singer, as demonstrated by Marillion. So there was a little pain, a lot of tears, a WHOLE lot of crying, a bit of weeping, and Tons Of Sobs, a popular album by Paul Rodgers' pre-Bad Company combo "Free." Therefore, Mike Patton said he'd sing lead on their next EP.
I don't know if you know Mike Patton because he's so obscure, but he's been in a lot of bands in his day - everything from Maldoror to others, and several more. Mike Patton's deal is that he utilizes (slang for "uses") an actual military arsenal of different vocal stylings - he sings, whispers, wails, croons, screams, howls, speed-raps and even TALKS! Out LOUD! So to replace the one-note one-trick screaming mimi dimitri with one of the most versatile vocalists in underground music would of course lead to a certain change in the combo's sound. But what WAS that change??? Would it be accepted by the hardcore DEP audience? And more importantly, how can I get my dick out of this buttonhole?
Those "in the know" claim that these songs were originally written as instrumentals, with no eye towards having former Mr. Bungle vocalist Mike Patton sing lyrics over them. However, it's hard not to notice that several passages sound like calculated efforts to sound exactly like such top-selling Mike Patton projects as Faith No More, Tomahawk and Fantomas. Although the disc BEGINS as intense as always, it does not carry through the entire 16-minute CD, and the increased musicality presents itself as Faith-No-More soundalike keyboard washes, dark morbid Tomahawk-esque passages, and lounge-jazzy passages of the type Mike Patton has performed in every band he's ever looked at. Sure, it's more colorful and diverse than the first three DEP releases, but at the expense of (some of) the overactive cerebral metalcore that defined their sound. Where earlier tracks would change 400 times at top-speed during the course of a song, these generally begin with 3 or 4 quick changes, then settle in to a longer, simpler chord-driven part that Mike does his thing over for a while before returning to the fast challenging portions again. The songs still sound difficult as all hell (I sure wouldn't want to have to learn them!), but they're just not as unbelievably impossible as those on the last record. Perhaps we should all have taken it as foreshadowing that DEP + FNM = PFD MEN (wherein "PFD" stands for "Pretty Fuckin' Dumb"). Yes, perhaps we should all have taken our shadows to town. Once there, we could have begun a hearty conversation about pustules.
While my friends are I are discussing the fact that I'm 31 and still get acne on an hourly basis, you can take a look at some casual notes I jotted down regarding the four songs on this EP. Some people like when kritiks describe the individual songs in a review. I consider it pointless. So here you go:
"hollywood squares" - Mike makes it sound more musical than it actually is by singing over the blasts of noise. This song is REALLY intense, fast and great!!! Then it changes to slow, jazzy chords with a trepidation guitar lead on top. But man, what a great beat that first part has. Then there's a Metallica metal part.... then stop-start-stop. This one is a CLASSIC! Great damn tune!!!!
"pig latin" - FNM synths over interesting dark jazzy guitar lick. Mike does "cha-cha-cha" fast angry rapping. THen intense metal with feedback tone on top, then a hardcore part, then a jazzy reverbed part straight outta Tomahawk/Fantomas, then back to cool intro. Then FNM choppy chords. Parts of this are too Mike Pattony.
"when good dogs do bad things" - awesome smash-bash chords, then to trudge, then midtempo, strange "mommy!" part with weird unnatural parts, REAL INTENSE!!!!!! Then has a really long slow loungey dark Tomahawk-style part. Eerie good, but too long. Thwicky thwicky guitar over FNM keys again. Parts of this are WAY too Mike Pattony.
"come to daddy" - aphex twin cover with 3 catchy distorted chords, then four ac/dc-style chords. I've never heard the original.
WOW!!! THAT WAS SO EXCITING, I CAME OUT MY NOSE!!!
Yeck. This doesn't taste very good at all. No wonder that Olsen twin is so skinny.
Oh no!!! Now I'm pregnant!!!
(*stars in hilarious remake of 1978 Billy Crystal vehicle Rabbit Test)
So I only have the one e.p. I like it a lot, maybe more than the majority of shite in the last few years. I can't really compare this to any of the other releases but the talk about shrieking vocalists dismays me, (I have one live track with the Greg bloke and while the music is great the strangled turkey singer is really off-putting.)
Whether the music was pre-written or not, Patton fits in seamlessly (is there a better male vocalist, on his day, working right now.. or then...?) I wouldn't like to try to play this too but thats not saying it's hard to get your head around, (Patton's delivery really helps to accentuate / simplify the structures.) Sing along and the rhythms just pour out, I have calluses on my thighs from all the beat slapage.
I'm obsessed by 'When good dogs do bad things.' Honestly, I sing it to myself while walking around, (haven't done that since I were a kid), it's just doing something for me that I really can't identify. I find it catchy, rockin, gentle & extremely violent... just beautiful. Is my head completely mashed or does it sound like a number 1 dead cert? And I have NEVER heard a drummer as good as this bloke. Never ever, he's a complete genius. My knowledge of playing is pathetically shite but he does everything right, e.g. that 4 kick/snare fill before the patton scream chorus.... My God!!!
You honestly have never heard 'Come to Daddy' by t'Aphex Twin? Do it now, look for the video too. DEP have pretty much covered it straight but replaced the electronics with rock, (durrr.) What I'm trying to say is the original is a great piss-take of the shocking electonic/industrial rock genre, with tongue rammed up both cheeks. Again Mr Drummer does an unbelievably good job of one of the most madly programmed beats... he's 95% bang on. Believe it or not but Patton actually under plays the vocals! Check the original quick lad, somewhere on http://www.warprecords.com/
So anyway, this doesn't sound like the rest of this band's releases (except maybe the first track) but more like Mike Patton. But I like Mike Patton's style most of the time and here it totally works. Anybody ever got the idea, that Mike Patton doesn't take "heavy" music very seriously? I have the feeling he tries to make a parody of the genre all the time.
Miss Machine - Relapse 2004
Continuing their career-long ambition to never record two CDs in a row with the same line-up, Miss Machine introduces us to the new vocals of the friendly and muscular Gregg Puciato. Aiming to please fans of ALL Dillinger Escape Plan eras, Gregg has a very effective insane scream (slightly lower in pitch than Dimitri's) and can also do a darn fine Mike Patton imitation. Something just occurred to me. Do you think that Mike Patto, former lead singer of hot '70s rock band "Patto" gets freaked out whenever he sees the name "Mike Patton"? That would be like some jerkass new-school music reviewer going around calling himself Mark Prindlen! No thanks, thanks. There'd be an ass-kicking occurring and I'm the guy with the brown belt! (with which I could hit Mark Prindlen)
In a late-2003 interview with famed music reviewer Mark Prindlen (I gave up, he was big), Gregg Puciato stated that the band's next album would surprise many DEP fans because only about half of it would follow the Calculating Infinity blueprint, leaving the rest to be influenced by the band's favorite music of the day (including Nine Inch Nails, foreshadowingly enough). As such, my expectations were a little nervous; I hate Nine Inch Nails, for example. But I'll tell you this: The Dillinger Escape Plan are still the cookingest math-metalcore band in the Universe -- WHEN THEY CHOOSE TO GO THAT ROUTE. The "traditional" alt-rock songs they stir into the misty head of beermusic are... (sigh) I'll say it for the five bajillionth time: TOO MIKE PATTON/FAITHNOMORE/FANTOMAS/MRBUNGLE/TOMAHAWKY.
First of all, there is too much focus on riff repetition where quick blasts always worked fine before. It's as if they want you to remember and sing along with their songs now (at least SOME of them anyway). Presumably they think of this is artistic and musical growth. Unfortunately, they were so far advanced in the first place that any alteration of their formula was bound to come across as creative regression. They had their own unique sound -- why water it down with the less-interesting influences of other artists? I mean, I love most of Mike Patton's bands too, but I wouldn't want to IMITATE them! What would be the point? But that's what they do on here. They spend more time on the little soul bits, jazzy bits, ambient bits and big anthemic alt-rock chord bits that are instantly recognizable as... I'm sick of writing the guy's name. You know who I'm talking about. (Jim Martin of Faith No More, whose name I am constantly writing on objects around my home)
The following is the most damning, accurate and concise criticism I can make of this record: the song "Unretrofied" sounds EXACTLY like something Linkin Park would write. And I'm saying that as a guy who likes some Linkin Park songs! But listen to it -- the sad emotional opening chord sequence, the terrible rap-talk verse with the fancy studio effects, the huge anthemic radio-ready chorus: they have NAILED the Linkin Park formula! That's called "Dumbing Down" -- I don't know why they did it (changing tastes? fatigue with counting? interest in a larger audience?), but the inclusion of such unnecessarily DULL third-rate material screws to jiffin' an otherwise incredible blast-a-thon of exciting speedy oddball note breaks and brilliant cacophony. And yes, that headblowing math-metalcore stuff IS still here, believe me! If it wasn't, the album would get a much lower grade than a 7. And when it's here man, it COOKS and RULES and BASHES and CHALLENGES and does all those other things that the Dillinger Earlobe Poop has always done so well.
And perhaps therein (in there) lies the rubby: The Dillinger Escape Plan play Dillinger Escape Plan music better than anybody else in the world... but as a normal rock band, they're a Mike Patton ripoff.
Speaking of "Mike Patton ripoff," Mike Patto just ripped off my panties!
Oh, never mind. He's just looking for spare change.
Spare BALL change, that is!!!!!!!
1. "Panasonic Youth" - Great way to open. Prototypical DEP, translation: kicks ass. That dual guitar riff that comes in between 0:59 & 1:00 is absolutely MINDBLOWING. Literally makes you think "How the FUCK did they do that???" And Gregg's already doing his first Patton impression of the album during that "The hourglass is never right side up" part. Very impressive.
2. "Sunshine The Werewolf" - Very similar to the last song, except this one has a slow gothy synth-breakdown in the middle. It does sound a LITTLE too Faith No More-y, but I don't mind it too much.
3. "Highway Robbery" - Deceptive blastbeat-filled opening betrays that fact that it's actually a very straightforward 4/4 song. Muttering verse, shouted pre-chorus, half-sung/half-screamed chorus. I like it just fine, except for the utterly pointless electronics/vocal harmonies quiet section.
4. "Van Damsel" - Probably the most "normal"(as in traditional DEP-style) song on the album. I don't like it that much, & I think it proves that you can only right so many "insane, chaotic, million-changes a second" songs before you start to stagnate.
5. "Phone Home" - Terrible Nine Inch Nails/Tool ripoff song. Gregg's in his worst "Dimitri Patton" mode. I really hate the mysoginistic lyrics on this & the next song too.
6. "We Are The Storm" - Back to the old Dillinger style, but much more predictable somehow...take the useless quiet section, for example. You can see that the guitars are about to blast their way back in from a mile away. Letdown.
7. "Crutch Field Tongs" - pointless noise/filler track.
8. "Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants" - Whoa, sounds exactly like Tomahawk. Not necessarily a bad thing, at least the chorus is catchy. Follows the exact same pattern as "Highway Robbery" but with better riffs. Good effort.
9. "Baby's First Coffin" - Fantastic song. Finally, they're mixing the old Dillinger style with the new & achieving phenomenal results. I even really like the quiet gothic-y section on this one where Gregg recites a million lines in a row without pausing. "THE EMPEROR IS DEAD!!! THE EMPEROR IS DEAD!!! GOOD-BYE TO GOD!!!" If only every song on the record were this good.
10. "Unretrofied" - I LOVE IT. I don't even care that it sounds exactly like Linkin Park. The pointless "screaming/ugly jazz bassline" part in the middle I could do without, the rest deserves to be a hit single. Seriously, this is commercial rock worthy of The Real Thing. Obvious, formulaic & non-threatening but with brains. Even if Linkin Park had made this song, I'd still like it.
11. "The Perfect Design" - And we end with a final grasp at the Escape Plan's glory days. I like this one, but ending the song with a trudging Neurosis-like coda seems like sort of a copout to me.
Final score: 8/10. I really dug it on first listen, but once the novelty of DEP incorporating actual melodies & semi-normal structures into their songs wore off, it struck me as crucially flawed. I think it'll be interesting to see where they go from here: will they pull a Cave In & start making even more obvious bids for mainstream success, or will they return to the days of blowing people's minds in with songs that refuse to get stuck in your head? Based on this album, I can't say which one I'm dreading more.
How does a band like that grow? Well, in the usual way. Closer and closer to centre. I don't think that they could become more uncompromising without losing all form of coherent sound. So their songs became more melodic.
Frankly, I wouldn't want another Calculating Infinity. It's a standalone album. If they made another one, then it would make the first one less special. So the criticism goes the other way, saying that they've sold out, or are simply repeating the Mike Patton EP into a full-length. And that's pretty accurate- the way the album sounds to me is a mish mash of their previous albums with a shiny well-produced gloss.
But I can't stand it when the blame gets put on Greg Puciato. The guy's an amazing singer, who has to live up to both Dmitri AND Mike Patton. Ben Weinman has always said that he and Chris Pennie write the songs themselves and then the singer fills in the gaps. He was the new guy who had to work around these crazy songs, bearing in mind the previous singers and trying to bring his own creative influences. And in that light, Miss Machine sounds as good as it can be.
But in my opinion, DEP has nowhere to progress to. What they have done already is great, but any further albums can only become more and more straightforward, and in terms of vocals Greg will either have to find something more unique he can bring to the band or they're going to be repeating themselves.
And it seems to me that the ONLY reason to say Dimitri is a a better vocalist is because with Greg they have gained notoriety.
Now, more than two people at your high school know about them.
Well, I'm sorry, but this record is great. Greg is a great live presence, and I think this is some of their best material to date.
For all dissapointed with the inclusion of 4/4 timing: I actually just read a review with Greg from less than a week ago (it was published September 26), and he says that the new songs they're working on are so complicated that he's having a hard time figuring out how to write and sing lyrics that will make sense with the music.
Plagiarism EP - iTunes 2006
In 2006, two guys from that band (along with three scabs) released a download-only EP comprising (a) a 'radio edit' of a Miss Machine song that sounds like Linkin Park, (b) a four-chord Nine Inch Nails cover, (c) a two-note Massive Attack cover, (d) a Soundgarden cover apparently voiced by Van Halen's Gary Cherone at his raspiest, (e) a straight, seemingly unironic Justin Timberlake cover, and (f) a live version of a Miss Machine song that sounds refreshingly like the Dillinger Escape Plan until about halfway through, when it suddenly turns into a shitty 3-chord dirge of boredom.
I don't mean to lift your stockinged feet out of your shoes with surprise and wonder... but that EP was Plagiarism.
Here are a few musically challenging non-metal artists that Dillinger Escape Plan might consider covering in the future:
- Frank Zappa
- King Crimson
Here are a few musically embarrassing non-metal artists that Dillinger Escape Plan might've reconsidered covering in the past:
- Nine Inch Nails
- Massive Attack
- Justin Timberlake
I've never heard such a terrible record in my life. I give it 3 points higher than the lowest score possible.
Guy Who Doesn't Want To Admit That There's Actually One Nine Inch Nails Song He Likes, And It's The One Performed Here
P.S. Greg Puciato's gigantic arm muscles necessitate your agreement to not alert him of this disparaging record review.
Ire Works - Relapse 2007
Only one person who played on that album is still in the band.
Apparently the band has a Devil's Evil Curse on it, if Wikipedia is to be believed. Check out this deliteful timeline:
- Band releases first EP
- Guitarist Derek Brantley replaced by John Fulton
- Band releases Under The Running Board EP
- Fulton leaves band
- Bassist Adam Doll is paralyzed from the chest down in a car wreck, is forced to retire
- Band releases Calculating Infinity, with guitarist Ben Weinman on both bass and guitar
- Guitarist Brian Benoit and bassist Jeff Wood join band
- Wood replaced by bassist Liam Wilson
- Vocalist Dimitri Minakakis leaves band
(NOTE: AT THIS POINT, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN WAS DOWN TO ONLY TWO OF ITS FIVE ORIGINAL MEMBERS. IN OTHER WORDS, DEP AS WE KNEW AND LOVED THEM WAS ALREADY EXTINCT EVEN BEFORE THE MIKE PATTON EP. WHO KNEW? OKAY, PROBABLY EVERYBODY. BUT I DIDN'T.)
- Vocalist Greg Puciato joins band
- Band records and releases Irony Is A Dead Scene EP with Mike Patton, leaving Puciato to stand sadly on the side watching
- Band releases Miss Machine (with Puciato)
- Benoit suffers nerve damage in his left hand, is replaced by guitarist James Love
- Weinman suffers rotator cuff injury; shockingly does not leave band
- Tour ends, Love leaves band
- Drummer Chris Pennie replaced by Gil Sharone, leaving Weinman as the only remnant of the band's first three releases
- Band records Ire Works
See? Nutsy-o! Had they gone the Wire/Wir route, they'd be "Dillinger Es" by now! But that's okay, because what a cool nickname for them, like "Sunny D" or "J.A." (cool people used to call Jane's Addiction that. Or "Jane's," which would have been even cooler had there not been a fellow artist named "James" operating around that time.)
Although Ire Works retains the classic Dillinger Escape Plan penchant for challenging arithmetical time changes, it unfortunately replaces a good deal of its twisted songwriting with simple one- and two-chord STOMP STOMP STOMPS. Furthermore, the Mike Patton copycatting is as prevalent here as on Miss Machine. How can the band not notice this? They should be embarrassed by how much "Black Bubblegum" sounds like Faith No More, "Nong Eye Gong" sounds like Mr. Bungle, and the second halves of "Sick On Sunday," "Milk Lizard" and "Dead As History" sound like.... well, Faith No More again. Frankly, I should have plotted out that sentence a bit better, but the fact remains: Mike Patton is not a member of this band, and somebody needs to let them know.
But you see, that's me - the Negative Nelly, always finding fault with people and things. Like that tree the other day - did you see it? It had leaves. Prick, with its leaves. So let's fill that glass half full and view The Diligent Estate Tax's latest release with a less queer eye.
Five of the songs are really good.
See? NOW who's the Negative Nelly? I went out of my way to rave and rave about t
How they managed to replace one phenomenally aggressive and technical drummer with another who seems just as gifted, I've no clue. But the less Pattony tracks on here feature insanely rage-filled rhythmic attacks with some of the fastest and most confusing time changes of the band's career (ex. "Fix Your Face," "Party Smasher"). Furthermore, Weinman in several moments demonstrates that he is still a ludicrously speedy and exceptional guitarist (ex: the avant-jazz noodlings of "Lurch," insane choppy guitar line of "Party Smasher," weird skrewed skewed note run of illness in "82588"). Evenfurthermore, the band continues its Voyage Into Diversity that began back around the Mike Patton EP, as demonstrated by just these few representative tracks that I'm going to briefly describe for you now, as illustration of the CD's poignant diversity and multi-faceted character:
"Fix Your Face" - THAT OL' CLASSIC DILLINGER SOUND! - Brutal overpowering drum and screaming cacophony featuring guest host Dimitri Minakakis! And yes, I complained about the one-chord stomping earlier, but who cares when it KICKS THIS MUCH CRAZY CONFUSING ASS! If I were All-Music Guide, I would put a check mark next to this song title, indicating that it is a "push track" for radio programmers. (Ditto for the equally old school "Horse Hunter" featuring guest host Brent Hinds, and "Party Smasher," which sadly features neither Brent Hinds nor Dimitri Staphylococcus.)
"Black Bubblegum" - FUNK-AGGRO/FAITH NO MORE - Irritating vocals alternate between hipster and falsetto. Bridge and chorus would have made a great FNM anthem, but the verse just STINKS!
"Sick On Sunday" - IDM/FNM - Digital Aphex Twiny IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) that eventually evolves into dark intrigue/spy/mystery/noir reminiscent of jazzier FNM (Fungal Nose Mucus).
"When Acting As A Particle" - HORROR MOVIE SOUNDTRACK - Tapping metal gongs or bells, scary movie violins, xylophones, bass, eerie guitar notes.... an excellent instrumental piece, but didn't some other band release a CD of movie soundtrack music a while back? Who was th -- oh yeah! Fantomas, Mike Patton's band.
"Nong Eye Gong" - CRAZY CARNIVAL CIRCUS VIOLENCE - Didn't anoth - oh yeah! Mr. Bungle, Mike Patton's band.
"Milk Lizard" - SPY/INTRIGUE HARD ROCK - WITH HORNS! - This great song sounds like Steel Pole Bathtub! ...until the end, when it turns into a terrible Faith No More ripoff.
"Dead As History" - PROG ROCK - A wonderfully moody piano/clean guitar art rock riff... until halfway through, when it turns into a Mike Patton ass-kissing telethon.
"Mouth Of Ghosts" - JANE'S ADDICTION - Though a bit overlong at 6:49, this pretentious and wonderful track brings you a dramatic adventure like side two of Ritual De Lo Habitual, complete with Latin drums, jazzy pianos and groovy guitar solos.
Three other songs - TOO MUCH ONE-CHORD STOMPING
There are many (several) a lot of strong moments on this disc, but disappointingly few songs that maintain their intelligent, idiosyncratic focus from beginning to end. As such, I fear that anybody who is introduced to the Dillinger Escape Plan via Ire Works or Miss Machine is going to immediately write them off as Mike Patton wannabes. And there is just no excuse for this. "Well, how can they help it when their singer sounds like Mike Patton?" They can STOP WRITING SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE FAITH NO MORE. It's not that fucking hard.
"Fucking hard or hardly fucking?" That's what I ask all my co-workers on the porn shoot every morning.
Oh, the ol' Dillinger Escape Plan, she ain't what she used to be
Ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be
The ol' Dillinger Escape Plan, she ain't what she used to be
Many long years ago.
Many long years ago
Many long years ago
The ol' Dillinger Escape Plan, she ain't what she used to be
Many long years ago.
Oh, the ol' Dillinger Escape Plan, she kicked on the whiffletree
Kicked on the whiffletree, kicked on the whiffletree
The ol' Dillinger Escape Plan, she kicked on the whiffletree
Many long years ago.
Many long years ago
Many long years ago
The ol' Dillinger Escape Plan,
she kicked on the whiffletree Many long years ago.
But really, whose fault is that? You shouldn't have had a rock band pulling your carriage around in the first place.
The drumming in Fix Your Face is almost the exact same as Panasonic Youth.
I am very sad Chris Pennie (one of my heroes) left to join Coheed and Cambria, their new album sucks btw.
I agree with the rating but I think I enjoyed it a little more then you.
Great review as always, again thanks for your great site and the free resource it provides. Usually I comment on your reviews with no additional insight but if I may I would like to ruminate on a few matters regarding this release.
1. I too compiled a little timeline of Dillinger's band members and the various tragedies that have befallen them (I am supposed to be writing a dissertation on software licensing and the legal issues it raises - anything seems more interesting...). They really do seem to operate under a dark cloud, especially given that the injury that paralyzed Adam Doll was in an innocuous "fender bender" accident. Also just before their new tour, Weinman broke his foot, causing the tours cancellation. Thankfully he didn't leave the band though! They really are a band who have earnt success the hard way, you have to give them credit for keeping going.
2. The problem for a band like DEP - when they arrived they were so much more intense, technical, heavy and innovative than basically any other band (Botch may have been doing it a bit earlier, but weren't as goddamned crazy), they set the bar so high that it could never be jumped again. I have been a DEP fan since Calculating Infinity, and even at the time I had the niggling feeling this was the band at their peak, a peak that would never again be reached. I also thought they would be the kind of band that would exist for 4 years or so and never release another full length, before disappearing into cult legend! With regards to newer releases, I recently revisited Miss Machine for the first time in a good while and it was better than I had remembered, true moments of intensity & genius are present...the thing is when a band was so far ahead to start, to be "weird" and "forward thinking" for them is now to be more normal (the songs in 4/4, the different, easier to listen to styles etc). So whereas the stompers you refer to are weird for DEP, they unfortunately make them sound more like other bands. It's something of a catch 22...they couldn't do Calculating Infinity style songs forever lest it become repetitive, now they risk repeating others to avoid that.
3. On repeating others, they really are sounding more like Patton. I think the EP with Patton was up there with "Infinity", "When Good Dogs do Bad Things" is a masterpiece (the "run away" section sends shivers down my spine). However, as you point out, sometimes it feels like they have forgotten he's not in the band anymore! There are many "woh oh woh woh"s in the album that sound straight out of Faith No More singing 101 (a manual I have plundered myself manys a time).
4. Band members. I remember thinking that the old DEP had basically gone at the period you describe, I was very saddened to hear that Pennie had gone (WHY TO C&C, I ASK YOU??!), and although Sharone is without a doubt an abolutely top class drummer, I am yet to be convinced he fills the space on the stool as well. I await a live show with him to see how he handles 43% burnt, Sugar Coated Sour, Jim Fear etc (I had tickets to the cancelled tour - rescheduled for February). I am unsure if it is simply because more of the songs are 4/4 "stompers", but he seems more content to simply keep time, in a very very complex way of course, but to me it seems as if he is happier to play bass, snare, bass bass, snare style rhythms whereas Pennie danced all over each time signature and rhythm he proffered, on a little jazz kit whilst usually looking dispassionate. What a f**king drummer. I think Sharone was drafted in quite quickly, so that could be a factor, and he is top class so I am not too worried about him. It is a shame there is only one member from the start still there...Puciato is a brilliant live performer however, and the musicianship cannot be questioned of any member.
5. Finally, I know this album and all its changes quite well after only a couple of weeks. Calculating Infinity took literally years to digest (and I am a musician). To get to know all the changes in it is a marathon task, which makes it an alltime classic. I guess I am just disconcerted that DEP could eventually be releasing more throwaway material.
Sorry I have rambled for so long, don't feel obliged to include all this in the comments section. Finally I would like to say that I do really enjoy this album, and it is still getting an 8/10 from me (Infinity or Secret Chiefs 3 Book of Horizons being examples of 10/10s). It is a great album by a great band...but they are a very different band from the one I started listening to all those years ago. I remain a big fan and don't forsee that changing!
Also - check out Mastodon (band featuring Brent Hinds) - they're freaking brilliant!
Option Paralysis - Party Smasher/Season Of Mist 2010
Now that I've established that good writing isn't something you can ring up on the Internet like an old shoe (http://www.gocomics.com/shoe/), let's talk Option Paralysis (yeah, more like SLEEP Paralysis if you ask some guy who thinks it's boring!). The Dippingdots have yet another new drummer, and just like his predecessors, he is COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTROLLING HIS MIND. He plays five hundred and jiminy miles per hour in a frantic jittery style that makes it hard to tell whether he's switching between multiple time signatures or just playing one in a very unorthodox manner. When the band decides to take advantage of his talent (which is often), it's clear that they could easily record Calculating Infinity + One if they so desired. The problem is that they don't so desire. And I think I finally understand why. It would be like Napalm Death releasing Additional Scum or DRI churning out Dirtier And More Rotten LP; once you've taken music to that extreme, there's really nowhere to go but actual songwriting.
Unfortunately, actual songwriting is precisely what Dillinger Escape Plan is no good at. They're the irrefutable kings of tight high-speed mathematical insanity, but when they try to write an accessible melody, it inevitably comes out sounding like a third-rate Faith No More ripoff. And it's not just because Greg Puciato sounds like Mike Patton; they could've used Billy Corgan and songs like "Widower," "Gold Teeth On A Bum" and the second half of "Farewell, Mona Lisa" would still sound like Faith No More -- just with a pig singing.
The main difference I seem to hear with this one (though, to be honest, I haven't listened to the last two records since I reviewed them) is the unfortunate addition of some truly shitty metal riffs. I mean just ugly, boring chords chugging back and forth like the worst that '80s metal had to offer. There are also a couple of piano ballads, which is interesting. Or at least they start off as piano ballads; certainly you don't expect this band to complete a song in the same genre in which it began!
In short, Option Paralysis finds Dillinger Escape Plan continuing their pattern of writing extremely aggressive and rigid pieces of mindblowing speed math, and then ruining them with humiliating Mike Patton xeroxes. Like the last record, there are definitely a handful of great tracks -- and thankfully they've dumped the NIN/electronics angle completely -- but they've really got to get a better songwriter in the band if they want people to stop comparing everything they do to Calculating Infinity. It is possible that they'll equal that record some day on their own terms, but not if they continue along this well-trodden pat(ton)h.
Which reminds me....
Dillinger Escape who?
Dillinger Escape Goat (Dillinger, a scapegoat) for the real enemy -- Franklin Roosevelt!
Get on the stick and BUY some Dillinger Escape Plan today! Click here and see what happens! Incredible, isn't it?
Return me to the Mark Prindle Electric Telephone (with Rice)