Dillinger Escape Plan
Miss Machine
2004
B-



the long shadow over metal that Dillinger Escape Plan has cast during its existence is an odd one. The group has released merely three EP’s and one LP. But it’s also a testament to their originality that, even during their absence, the group has been debated about, discussed and revered with such abandon. On their second LP, Miss Machine, the group goes a long way towards cementing the promise that they’ve displayed on previous material, justifying the hype that has surrounded their name since Calculating Infinity’s release in 1999.

The major change is the addition of new vocalist Greg Puciato, replacing full-timer Dimitri Minakakis and one-off collaborator Mike Patton. Puciato’s voice clearly owes debts to Patton in places and, oddly, Trent Reznor on “Phone Home”, but also falls easily into line with the hardcore continuum of vocal shredders on much of the material. Puciato’s vocals come off as a welcome transition from Minakakis’ one-note (albeit mind-blowing) torching and Patton’s overpowering (albeit distinctive) presence.

Musically the sound is, in many places, Under the Running Board + seven years of experience. The guitars could hardly go further into abstraction, but opener “Panasonic Youth” and closer “The Perfect Design” should easily satisfy adherents to the jazz and latin-inflected asides that earned the group the label math-metal in the first place. What comes in between, though, is something eminently familiar and completely unexpected.

The group has continued with the electronic hints dropped on Irony Is A Dead Scene. “Baby’s First Coffin”, first heard on the Underworld soundtrack, is typical DEP hardcore until the last half where the group moves into a smoother section, replete with back-up vocals, synths and airy guitar lines. The move back into hardcore territory for the end will hardly satisfy long-time fans, but they may have already turned the record off by then.

That’s because “Sunshine the Werewolf”, the aforementioned “Phone Home” and “We Are the Storm” all feature similar atmospheric sections of release from the sometimes-stultifying rules of metal. And while returns to the simplicity of 4/4 and the continued experimentation with samples may seem like steps backward from the uncompromising statements laid out by previous material, it’d be hard to imagine how much further the group could have gone without, say, musically becoming a prog group at the height of its pretension. As such, the group’s move toward a math-metal-industrial fusion is a welcome one that should help to bring them fans that have never heard the group before. And those criticizing the band for moving forward should probably look at why they the liked them in the first place.



Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-07-21
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