Calculating Infinity review by The Dillinger Escape Plan

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  • Released: Sep 28, 1999
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.5 (28 votes)
The Dillinger Escape Plan: Calculating Infinity

Sound — 10
Chaos! In their 1999 release (and 2000 re-release) of "Calculating Infinity", Dillinger Escape Plan sounds no less than the entire world population of elephants charging into a barbed wire labyrinth. Guitarists Brian Benoit and Ben Wienman tear out intense and seemingly unplayable riffs to keep this band soaring above the average idea of technicality. Top-of-the-lung screaming is constantly belted from singer Dimitri Minakakis. Tempo Changes, rhythm changes, and stop-starting aplenty, this album will keep you guessing for weeks. Calculating Infinity's musical styles span from thrashing Mathcore to Ambience and Jazz, usually within one song. Also look for calm yet hardly soothing clean sections of certain songs.

01. Sugar Coated Sour - this song opens up with a tumbling tap spasm, and lands in a realm of chaotic barrages of noise more than capable of bruising. Shortly afterwards the music slips almost accidentally into a random yet well constructed jazz tune that rings out it's harmony. Suddenly the band "remembers" where they are and slash back into a bone crushing riff, containing perhaps the most prominent lyric of the entire album: "Life would be, so much better... If You Did Not Exist!" The song then cascades into an interlude-like passage and ends up in a random and pitch-shifting riff that will undoubtedly stun the listener. Then the blitz subsides to a dull roar with a start stop rhythm which soon evolves into a much stronger rhythm as the singer blasts: "Sugar!... Coated!... Sour!" and you can literally feel his hatred as it rings away into blackness. Then comes track two!
02. 43% Burnt - one of Dillinger's most popular songs, 43% burnt tears open with a horrific Mathcore riff that seems almost too easy for the intense guitarists. Then the band transforms to a technical, bewildering machine for a good few seconds until all of the sudden they decide to stop and one of the guitarists decides to play a hillbilly like riff. Shortly after, the band comes in with an exploding evolution of the country-like riff! Then they lose their focus again and decide to play a nice little jazz melody before shredding it up again, followed by one of the most maniacal arrangements of music ever put forth on the face of this earth. An ill-timed randomization of out of tune chords, topped with Ben Weinman destroying reality itself with face-dismantling sweeps of death! Soon after, Dimitri blares the song's popular lyrics: "I JUST FEEL IT! EVERYTHING'S FINE! SPIT ON YOURSELF! YOU'RE SO BEAUTIFUL!" Then TDEP crumbles to an intensely destructive song section with Dimitri screaming at seemingly random times. Then, one of the most difficult guitar features I have ever heard recorded is played. A jazzy yet technical clean riff worthy of trying to play (but don't get your hopes up! ). The song closes with a similar repeat of the avalanche played before the jazz solo, and then an ever fading repeat of the opening riff. Wow. What a song.
03. Jim Fear - "Jim! Fear! Done! It! A... Gain!" is shattered into your soul before you can even breathe. That's how this song starts, and to hear it is truly maddening. It's a beautiful song. This song is just a tad more energetic than a solar flare, and cannot be described with words.
04. *#.. - this "song" is a strange, ambient Soundscape, which slowly brings in a strange and almost sloppily played Mathcore riff from TDEP's guitarists. This song is like an audible work of art, and intent listeners will feel themselves imagining some sort of fantasy world based on the sounds they hear.
05. Destro's Secret - screeching open with an intense and nonsensical pattern, this song does anything but caress. Shortly after, it mutates into a banshee of sorts as Dimitri's torturing "Yeah!" is closely mimicked by the guitars. Then an interesting and odd jazz section is played on and off, until quieting into a whisper-like chant: "Sun dripped devil, sun dripped devil, scratched out my eyes, scratched out my eyes." Then chaos ensues as the band lets fly that very same chant with an embracing assault of noise until finally the initial riff of the song is played.
06. The Running Board - this song explodes in a strange pattern of music unlike nothing else ever produced, after some more blatant screaming, the band abruptly halts and Dimitri wails a hulking "Hush baby now, don't say a word!" and an insane collaboration of noise follows that will leave you needing a break, and coincidentally, after a couple blood-curdling scream samples, you'll get one! A nice, dramatic musical movement plays out until the band flares again. That is followed by another cut into the same clean section, which is this time abruptly swept into an abomination of noise that eventually turns into an intriguing stop start rhythm until the song ends.
07. Clip The Apex... Accept Instruction - insanity.
08. Calculating Infinity - a very interesting and mathematical instrumental. The band plays a Mathcore riff with a nice groove to it, and then plays a background music type ensemble, until bursting into a searing recreation of the initial Mathcore riff of doom!
09. 4th Grade Dropout - insanity + drama.
10. Weekend Sex Change - this song opens up with a sloppy effort at a melodious movement, until falling apart into a harsh and maddening world of strange audio samples. The madness is then collected and swept into a vortex, and the band plays very interesting music that sounds like something you would hear in the background at the main menu of a video game. Complex break-beats are played by drummer Chris Pennie. The song suddenly ends and disappears without a trace until the next time you hear it.
11. Variations On A Cocktail Dress - more insanity in case you didn't get your fill from the rest of the album. The song ends with you feeling like you haven't breathed or blinked in the last 3 minutes, which you probably haven't.

Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are thought provoking, abstract, deep, and passionate. Most of all, they are filled with hate, despair, regret, envy, discourse, revenge, you name it. Calculating Infinity is a carnival ride of pain and anger. The lyrics sharpen the already jagged edges of Dillinger's crushing music, and the way Dmitri fires them into the listener's ears is twice as brutal. The fact that he never sings once on the entire album is more than made up for by the intensity that he sends shattering down your spinal column.

Overall Impression — 10
This album is a milestone in modern metal. The tenacity is remarkable and the endurance of every band member is amazing. If you're looking to vent, or just mosh to the death, look for these songs from Calculating Infinity: Sugar Coated Sour, 43% Burnt, Jim Fear, Destro's Secret, The Running Board, Clip the Apex... Accept Instruction, 4th Grade Dropout, Variations On A Cocktail Dress. But don't forget to check out their complex, ambient, and incredibly unique other songs! Look for a creepy, thought provoking end to the cd, a few minutes after the earth shattering "Variations On A Cocktail Dress" has finished its term of relentless domination! Overall, this album captures the emotions and trials of a human life that millions upon millions of albums have failed to recreate. Dillinger Escape Plan plays the most accurately executed monstrosities ever recorded, a definite must-have!

10 comments sorted by best / new / date

    TMA-2 wrote: i gotta say, you're extremely talented at writing hyperbole.
    i agree lol. Although, this is a great album, but not as incredible as far as mathcore goes. I feel this is one of the first real mathcore albums, from one of the only true mathcore bands. This review is very biased however haha