What is the proper way to say goodbye? For the uninitiated, for nearly two full decades, the world has been fortunate enough to be inhabited by a group of individuals that call themselves ‘The Dillinger Escape Plan;’ purveyors of some of the most extreme sounding, heart pounding, mind melting mathcore the world has ever seen, TDEP have lived by their own set of rules since inception, yielding one of the most unique sounds that may ever be considered enjoyable. In the months leading up to the release of this, their finale, Dissociation, it was known that after this album, the group was going to break up. No extended hiatus; for all intents and purposes, this is it. So, to go back to the beginning: how does one say goodbye, when it’s really goodbye?
In typical fashion, the album opens on one of lead singles, in this case Limerent Death; a track very much in the vein of their previous two openers (Farewell, Mona Lisa and Prancer), this is Dillinger at their time signature changing, chaotic, almost literally surgical best. Pummeling, leg shattering drumming, lightning quick riffs, unmatched precision, and the instantly recognizable vocal chord shredding courtesy of Greg Puccato, Limerent Death is the consummate TDEP opener; unrelentingly ferocious, uncannily catchy, and possessing more time signature changes than the typical rock band probably releases in an entire career. For any other band, an ambitious way to begin an album, but for The Dillinger Escape Plan, this is just business as usual.
It may be a difficult concept to grasp, especially for those more unfamiliar with the bands discography, but a typical TDEP album is both wildly experimental and wickedly consistent. There is no formula: any track will be unique in its own right and will probably incorporate everything they’ve come to play: jazz, hardcore, heavy metal, punk, minor pop, electronica, etc. If there is one thing to be said, it’s that they have never, and will never, be a band that can properly be pigeonholed into one genre. Take the next track on the album, Symptom of Terminal Illness. A wildly subdued, moody, and altogether brilliant track, it incorporates Greg’s criminally underrated clean vocal melodies, an infectious chorus, and a slower pace; and yet, the background melodies are haunting, the drumming is as on point and complex as ever, the guitar riffs are meaty and memorable, and the lyrics paint a bleak and sinister picture:
Promise me I won’t die
I panic in dreams
From when I was still young
Please don’t turn on that light
I can’t see it
I’m frightened in sleep
Thinking our world will be gone
Please don’t turn on that light
A wickedly emotional roller coaster, not only does it segue perfectly from Limerent Death, but also it also creates that unflappable feeling that this really is the end. The only way this song could have had a larger impact were it to have been the closer: more on that later.
At this point in their career, it’s obvious to any listener that the stark contrast between the two opening tracks is just who The Dillinger Escape Plan is: the dabbling in experimentation, the ability to maintain a sensational melody while also playing technically sound and complex pieces, and the ability to create within the listener both a desire, and a need, to hear what’s coming up next.
Continuing on with their experimentation is the oddly placed, and quite frankly disappointing track, Fugue. Electronic elements, interspersed with intricate bass playing, Fugue is a strangely hypnotic track, but perhaps what makes it so frustrating, despite it not actually being a bad track, is its placement. Fourth in line after 3 in your face tracks, it completely derails the building momentum, essentially forcing an immediately subsequent refocus.
Never fear, however, as the guys do somehow know how to atone for any of their (rare) mishaps. Manufacturing Discontent is easily the heaviest of the tracks on the album, if not one of the heaviest in their entire discography. It’s an absolute mammoth that would be literally breathtaking if not for the fact that somehow they make tracks like that seem second nature. Meanwhile, Nothing to Forget is built to withstand the test of time, as it’s terrifying in its tone and “simplicity,” and does its part to make us all sit in awe of the talent that is Greg Puciato. A man whose shrieks and screams are such that his listeners can feel his pain, he is a man that has one hell of a clean singing voice, as previously seen on Symptom of Terminal Illness, and which will be remembered as the highlight of this track. Greg displays some of the finest singing of his career, made all the more emotional and effective as its accompanied by a beautiful string section, all wrapped in the pained, trapped shrieks of ‘please let me be myself, I don’t need anyone else.’
Which brings us to Dissociation; an array of experiences from mild detachment to severe emotional detachment, as defined in psychology, the major characteristic of which is a detachment from reality. This brings us to the end, the final new track of the storied career of TDEP. Featuring primarily electronic melodies, masterful clean vocals, and intermingled with more string section, the song picks up a bit towards the tail end, introducing actual drums as we descend into the abyss that is the end of TDEP. As referenced earlier, despite the strength and mood of Symptom of Terminal Illness, Dissociation was and is the perfect swan song, the ultimate way for TDEP to go out. The entire song feels as if we’re floating away, as if the band and we as its listeners have become detached from all that is real. Greg never really sounds in focus, the song wanders to and fro, weaving in and out of consciousness, constantly repeating ‘finding a way to die alone.’ Among all of their experiments, Dissocation, both the song and the album, may have been the most daring, and once it goes to black, when all that’s left is silence, it becomes real. We have become detached, as that’s the end. The Dillinger Escape Plan is no more. And boy, they could not have gone out in a more moving way. To answer: this is how you say goodbye. The band that has given its all, has finally said that they’re done giving. We thank you as listeners for the craziness, the technicality, the experimentation, and most of all, the memories. \m/
Final Rating: 4.3/5