Dissociation Review

artist: The Dillinger Escape Plan date: 10/14/2016 category: compact discs
The Dillinger Escape Plan: Dissociation
Released: Oct 14, 2016
Genre: Mathcore, Experimental Metal
Label: Party Smasher Inc, Cooking Vinyl
Number Of Tracks: 11
Being their last album before their amicable breakup, "Dissociation" is arguably a perfect record to act as the final chapter of The Dillinger Escape Plan's catalog.
 Sound: 10
 Lyrics: 9
 Overall Impression: 10
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overall: 9.7
Dissociation Featured review by: UG Team, on october 14, 2016
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Sound: One of the most influential acts in modern extreme metal, it was The Dillinger Escape Plan's avant-garde brand of measurement-wonky metalcore - earning the name "mathcore" - that was partly responsible for the prevalence of technically-minded metal acts today. And beyond that brainy craftsmanship of a driving, aggressive sound, TDEP further set themselves apart with a penchant for dabbling with other genres in their albums, like the industrial moments heard in 2004's "Miss Machine," the IDM-style production value shown in 2007's "Ire Works" (which also became another prevalent theme in metal recently), and the neoclassical moments in 2010's "Option Paralysis."

While metalheads were anticipating the next TDEP album ever since the band announced working on it at the end of 2015, the announcement of its completion earlier this year would turn out of be bittersweet when the band also announced it would be their last album. Given the fact that members have also used this year to tend to new projects (with founder/lead guitarist Ben Weinman working with the metal supergroup Giraffe Tongue Orchestra, and vocalist Greg Puciato taking a turn into synthwave with his side-project The Black Queen), it was fairly obvious that TDEP were looking to go in different directions, but stating they wanted to consensually end the band while on good terms, they also commented on how the making of this final album was quite copacetic compared to the adversity-laden history of their previous records.

Knowing this would be the last album while composing it, TDEP swing for the fences on all accounts in "Dissociation." Most directly, the band use this final effort to pour out all the chaos they can in numerous songs, whether it's the fast-to-slow, slow-to-fast swirling madness of "Limerent Death," the jittery guitar riffs in "Surrogate," or Billy Rymer's exceptionally frenzied drumming in "Manufacturing Discontent" and "Apologies Not Included." Puciato matches those instrumental onslaughts as best he can with his shrieking vocal delivery coming off more unhinged than ever before, though he gets to ease up and sing more in the forlorn metal ballad "Symptom of Terminal Illness."

This heightened output of their trademark lurching metal energy isn't a surprise, but "Dissociation" also makes a bigger effort to include more splashes of different genre flavors. While the heady electronica interlude of "Fugue" acts as much of Weinman's follow-up love letter to IDM in the way "Ire Works" first was, Weinman's guitar-work also injects some flamenco-esque flavor in "Honeysuckle," and in another first for TDEP, he deftly brandishes a Petrucci-style prog metal solo in "Low Feels Blvd." A post-rock break settles the thrashing mathcore energy in "Wanting Not So Much as To," and "Nothing to Forget" augments '80s-style synths and a hint of string sections to its low-gear metal power and Puciato's sneering, misanthropic vocals.

The eponymous closing song, however, contains perhaps the biggest surprise. Leaving the guitars untouched, the song has Puciato bringing forth his most delicate vocal performance to date, surrounded by an arrangement of synths, drums and organic string sections provided by Seven)suns. Being the song that not only ends the album, but literally closes out the band's discography, TDEP's opting to end things not with a bang, but with a full-on ballad of departure, is a move that defies what the band is best known for - spastic, tricky metal - and yet, is also the most appropriate way to end things. // 10

Lyrics: Also being a product effected by the scenario of this being TDEP's last album, the lyrics in "Dissociation" very much invoke all the spiraling feelings of finality regarding the band. With Puciato's feelings of grief and uncertainty expressed in the incredulous bargaining of "Limerent Death" ("You were everything to me / I gave you everything you wanted"), and the fatalistic rhetoric in "Symptom of Terminal Illness" ("I'm frightened in sleep thinking my world will be gone / Promise me I won't die") and "Surrogate" ("I'm afraid of how this ends / I've never thought such things before"), his emotional point of view is just as much a vessel for the listeners lamenting the end of TDEP as Puciato is personally.

Puciato's feelings lining up with the listeners here check out. As they've spoken about deciding to end TDEP, Puciato originally contested Weinman's initial desire to split the band up, and some moments are clearly inspired by that contentious dialogue, whether it be the optimist/pessimist view of stopping at the band's creative apex in "Manufacturing Discontent" ("Now won't you tell me the point / I was starting to find myself / I wasn't looking for you / But you gave me the point / I was starting to sell myself"), or Puciato's hope to keep things going in "Apologies Not Included" ("Look through your ways / Now there's nothing / But maybe there's / Still hope"). But in the end, Puciato directly faces the looming separation in the eponymous song, gently commenting on the end with a sense of enlightened morosity ("What a strange / Way to lose / Finding a way to die alone"). // 9

Overall Impression: Weinman had spoken about wanting to end TDEP at a point when everything was going great in order to avoid the eventual decline that comes when a band reaches a point of staleness and a drying of their inspirational well. It's a cautious call coming from a band that has never made any album that was widely considered a blunder, but TDEP's effort to seal the impressive status of their discography with "Dissociation" is flawless. To hear the band's output in the album be so focused and artistically enlightened may consequently strengthen the feelings of angst when knowing TDEP will be no more after this, but with the band's goal of ending things in order to leave on a high note, "Dissociation" earns its place as the highest note in the band's catalog. // 10

- Sam Mendez (c) 2016

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