Album Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan – Dissociation

By Tanner Bidish, Contributor

[Party Smasher Inc.; 2016]

Rating: 7.5/10

Key Tracks: “Wanting Not So Much To As To,” “Fugue,” “Nothing to Forget”

The Dillinger Escape Plan has had a career spanning nearly two decades. Their sixth and final album caps their discography on what can best be described as thoughtfully experimental. Dissociation pays homage to everything it was built on, while also exploring what it can be in and of itself. Dillinger’s latest shows smart and interesting musical decision making that can be expected from their experience. Their farewell address does not disappoint.

Opening the album at full throttle is “Limerent of Death;” it’s adrenaline forced and pushes forward with unwavering intensity. Juxtaposing it, is the gentle guitar intro of the following track, “Symptom of Terminal Illness.” A range of vocal stylings are sported here, and throughout the record, by Greg Puciato. Low luring, midrange pleading; the performance is emotional and creepy.

“Wanting Not So Much To As To” is perhaps the most musically engaging. A seemingly playful percussive intro breaks away after eight seconds to unrelenting guitar. Little interludes break the tension time and again, but heavy instrumentation and vocals abruptly resume. Two spoken word segments give narrative to sung verses. Each musical shift feels motivated in this genuinely exciting track.

Dissociation is full of surprises, the largest of which is probably the four minute electronic instrumental, “Fugue.” It is starkly unlike its fellow tracks, but finds its home comfortably by maintaining the record’s atmosphere and not fumbling the momentum. “Low Feels Blvd” keeps the surprises coming with a soothing jazz break among the chaos, which rails right back into the action. Contrasting guitar lines in the midst of “Surrogate” give way to creepy ambience, then screaming, then relaxed vocals that aid the darkness of this number.

Intricacies get exciting in “Nothing to Forget.” What beings as heavy math-metal jam is dissipated near the three-minute mark by violins. Puciato’s voice dips into a pleasing, not quite falsetto, high range over the strings. Meanwhile the percussion hints at something darker brewing; the track curtly reaches back to the intensity it started with. Puciato calls, “Please let me be by myself, I don’t need anything”.

The title track serves as the closer. It features a call back to the electronics on “Fugue” and the strings on “Nothing to Forget”, along with melodic vocal stylings. It’s the most at peace work of this album. An honest swan song from The Dillinger Escape Plan.

Dissociation is exciting and intricate. The Dillinger Escape Plan performs unexpectedly and acutely, with spikes and leads that will keep listeners invested. Dissociation is a satisfying end to a long career.

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