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The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Dissociation" (CD)

The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Dissociation" CD cover image

"Dissociation" track listing:

1. Limerent Death
2. Symptom Of Terminal Illness
3. Wanting Not So Much As To
4. Fugue
5. Low Feels Blvd
6. Surrogate
7. Honeysuckle
8. Manufacturing Discontent
9. Apologies Not Included
10. Nothing To Forget
11. Dissociation

Reviewed by on September 15, 2016

"An utterly off-the-wall disc, no single song on this album has any connection at all to any other track, with a complete and total lack of cohesion being the main identifying mark of 'Dissociation.'"

Much has been made of this Dillinger Escape Plan album, with comments from band members alternately claiming this will or won't be their final output and press releases coyly asking “Could this be the end of DEP?”

Whether this is or isn't the grande finale for ole Dillinger, one thing is certain – the titled “Dissociation” is clearly meant to be taken very literally, even if it has no connection to the supposed end of the band. An utterly off-the-wall disc, no single song on this album has any connection at all to any other track, with a complete and total lack of cohesion being the main identifying mark of “Dissociation.”

You get your typically chaotic Dillinger experience blazing out of nowhere with absolutely no warning on “Limerent Death.” The track is absolutely classic DEP, but in this case that's not particularly a good thing. The problem is that it's so recognizable in sound the song is almost self-plagiarizing. We've heard that same riff and drum combo done in that exact same stuttering way repeatedly across the Dillinger discography. If it's literally no different from the previous album at all, what is it doing on this album?

The track does slow down for some truly odd vocal styling and fat bass lines at the end though, going in a direction that's bizarre even for Dillinger. The weird, contorted cries of “I gave you everything you wanted, you were everything to me” getting more and more insane as they go on until its just grindy noise in the background doesn't quite work the way the band seems to think it does. Honestly, it's sort of obnoxious.

Shifting into the next track, the low key, atmospheric intro to “Symptom of Terminal Illness” is about as jarringly different from the outro of “Limerent Death” as you can possibly get. There's a totally different vocal style and totally different musical mindset going on, and here it all comes together better than on the opening track. Dillinger likes to be crazy and abrasive, but the band is usually best when tempering that with an emotive or melancholy sound, and that's whats on display here.

From there, the album is just all over the map, from the utterly schizophrenic “Wanting Not So Much As To” to the dark ambient / electro rave dance nonsense of “Fugue.” Just to be extra weird, the latter song suddenly switches to acoustic strumming and odd spacey sounds halfway through for a horror movie vibe. The song gets the idea of its title across, there's no doubt about that, but its really a track with no musical identity.

“Low Feels Blvd” starts off utilizing exactly that same Dillinger stuttering guitar/drum combo with Greg Puciato's signature yell that's too familiar for its own good. The 1:40 mark is when the massive change comes in, with smokey and jazzy guitar lines completely different from what was heard before, eventually adding in trumpets and clean vocals. It all builds to a chaotic frenzy just to then return to the starting style all over again. It's an interesting take on the DEP sound marrying old and new ideas, unfortunately marred by that 40 seconds of annoying fading out reverb at the end. That's never been an enjoyable ending to a song – not one single time in the history of music – so why do people keep doing it?

“Honeysuckle” has a totally nuts combo of jazzy sounds with the signature Dillinger chaos, throwing in random snippets of both styles in a disorienting way and then blending them together. It's technically proficient and I sort of have to give hats off to the guys for even being able to play these notes at that pace, but I'm not sure its actually enjoyable to hear.

Moving forward, the first 2:55 of “Manufacturing Dissent” is an all-around average Dillinger track, but features an awesome change up from 2:55 - 3:40 that goes in an utterly unexpected direction that actually works. In a way that will truly rock longtime fans, “Nothing To Forget” brings in classic string instruments and clean singing and is way outside the band's comfort zone. Personally I dig the bizarre experiment present on that track, but I get the impression many fans are going to hate this one on principle.

With so many different elements at play between classic DEP sound and utterly insane segments of pure chaos, the end result as a whole is somehow both overly familiar and too bizarrely different at the same time. Is there excellent music in here? Absolutely. Is there also ridiculous noise not worth hearing? You betcha. It's sort of a shame as “One Of Us Is The Killer” was among the best albums of 2013 (maybe even THE best album of 2013), while “Disassociation” is frankly just a mess.

Highs: "Symptom Of Terminal Illness," "Nothing To Forget," and bits and pieces of "Manufacturing Dissent"

Lows: Huge swathes of every track - whether they are going too familiar to previous albums or too bizarrely different.

Bottom line: Dillinger goes way beyond "experimental" and even beyond "incohesive" into some bizarre realm where structure doesn't exist

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)