The Dillinger Escape Plan
Ire Works


2.0
poor

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
November 12th, 2007 | 1629 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: When Good Bands Do Bad Things

Dillinger Escape Plan - Ire Works

We live in a strange world. The group of people responsible for creating the music heard on the albums Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine, Dillinger Escape Plan, are essentially legendary. Both of their previous albums were heralded as insanely inventive and technical. Let me tell you, they are. Dillinger Escape Plan are relentlessly brutal and sometimes even unpalatable, but their music has always been strikingly original and interesting. Even if you can't really wrap your mind around the octatonic guitar riffing or the alternating asymmetric time signatures, hearing what probably sounds to you like a very heavy version of circus music will at least pique your interest, whether by inspiring fear and disgust or awe and admiration. Calculating Infinity was a more brutal release. There wasn't one corner of that album that didn't challenge the norms of what it meant to be "technical" in metal in 1999. Even tracks like "Weekend Sex Change," which were highly atmospheric and electronic, were compositionally technical in a way other heavy music wasn't. The landmark tracks like "Sugar Coated Sour" and "43% Burnt" were memorable and stunning, ripping through the cheesy shred of a band like Dragonforce with ease. Miss Machine, though not as revolutionary as CI, was DEP's most profound release. Instead of the technobabble of a track like "Destro's Secret," the listener was presented with oddly potable tracks like "Sunshine the Werewolf" and "Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants." Even the more crushing tracks like "Panasonic Youth" were anthemic instead of acerbic. The single track though that represented DEP's change was "Unretrofied," which featured a tonal, consonant, 4-bar chord progression as the reprise, and a verse-chorus-verse song structure to boot. Despite this straight-forward approach to songwriting, DEP still crafted a challenging and interesting song that was catchier than anything they had previously recorded, yet still in the spirit of Dillinger Escape Plan.

Now, it's 2007, and Calculating Infinity is part of some math metal mythology as much as it's part of Dillinger Escape Plan's discography. Miss Machine is still a shining example of DEP at their best. Ire Works is just sort of poopy by comparison. On a whole, Ire Works is a boring reduction of their previous styles that fails to elevate the technicality, songwriting, melody, production, really anything, of the previous releases. But before ripping into this album failings, let's at least enjoy its successes. On a song to song level, Ire Works contains some blistering songs. The album starts admirably, albeit predictably, with "Fix Your Face" (or as I think of it "Panasonic Youth pt. 2") and "Lurch." Both tracks serve as a reintroduction to how brutal and challenging DEP can be. Other tracks like "Nong Eye Gong," "82588," and "Part Smahser" pretty consistently bring the mosh and teched out time changes in the typical Dillinger style. DEP also succeeds in their experimentation on some of the tracks. "When Acting as a Particle" begins with some gamelan-esque metallophones that permeate the sound of the interesting 1:28. To mix those rhythmically regular yet ominous tones with math metal is pretty inspired and awesome. "Mouth of Ghosts" also makes positive strives towards experimentation. Its production and post-rock song structure are really refreshing considering the typical Dillinger sound. The piano and other ambient effects are especially effective and even make the cheesy Romantic chord progression really cool. Lastly, an important yet obvious positive of Ire Works is that instrumental work is insanely impressive. DEP are a chops band for people who hate chops bands. The playing on this album is just as jaw-dropping as those on previous albums. In particular, the bass playing is much improved, or at least is more prominent, as I found myself enjoying little fills and what can even be described as lead bass riffing.

Despite these positives, this album is tarnished by an overwhelming number of negatives. First off is the production. While on some tracks like the two "When Acting..." tracks, the production is incredibly interesting and makes the songs, on other songs it's just frustrating and cluttered. The instrumental breaks on "Milk Lizard" are messy and discombobulated. Piano bounces off guitar and ambient noise tracks with no real differentiation between parts, nor a gratifying sense of wielding noise. It's just mush without flavor. The songwriting is also weaker. There are a few cool new additions in the motif-based "Mouth of Ghosts" and the percussion-based "When Acting as a Particle," but in general there are three types of songs: metal mindfucks, "experimental" ambient tracks, and goofball pop-metal tracks. The first form is good but not great. DEP has mastered the chaotic mini-epic. Being dragged through miles of different time signatures and jagged riffing in 2 minutes or so has been mastered, but it's somewhat predictable in 2007. The experimental tracks aren't as claustrophobic and crazy as the ones on Calculating Infinity and not as brooding as "Phone Home" from Miss Machine. "Sick on Sunday," while cool in premise (heavy breakbeat and other electronic sounds mixed with grind), sounds like a poor man's Genghis Tron in practice or an imitation Venetian Snares. Lastly, the pop-metal tracks are immediately not as likable or as well-conceived as "Unretrofied," the only previous poppy track in DEP's discography. "Black Bubblegum" barely crosses its own finish line with a tedious 4:10 run time and "Dead as History" though pretty cool in the beginning, ultimately becomes a goofy regurgitation of stock Coheed and Cambria riffing and chord progressions. That's right I said it: "Dead as History" is just a weak Coheed song. Maybe DEP were sardonically alluding to Chris Pennie leaving to play for Co&Ca (which would be fairly genius in terms of self-aware songwriting), but more likely is that they fell trap to the cheesy loftiness of bands they seem to hate. My last big gripe on this album is with the vocal performance. Greg is an amazing vocalist. He really is. However, he needs to get out of the shadow of Mike Patton. Miss Machine was a chance for him to get his bearings within the band, and as one may imagine he relied on Patton's style to some success. "Baby's First Coffin" was one particular song where Greg's ability to invoke Patton took the song above and beyond. On Ire Works such invocations are strained and obvious, and moments where Greg is being more straight-forward or singular feel flat. Some moments on the album are vocally gripping, but in general it's just more of the same.

And while I've sufficiently pooped all over this album, I still sort of like it. I'll admit that it's a fun time. I like the idea of the unexpected appearances of breakbeat, glitch, pop, prog rock, etc. but ultimately these influences are kitschy instead of catchy. I can't help but admire the wondrous technicality of the band members, but I wonder if they could have deployed it in a more tasteful way. In general, I even like Greg's vocals as they are powerful and cut through the mix, but in the end he hasn't really stretched himself since Miss Machine. I feel like the shortcomings of this album are not a result of bad ideas or a stunted creativity - DEP has reams of good ideas - it's just the execution that holds this album back from being great.



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user ratings (2078)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Yeah new Coheed ended up destroying this. Damn you Chris Pennie!
Fix Your Face is the only song I like here. Good review.

Tyler
Emeritus
November 12th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Surprised you didnt mention all the filler. Great review, I agree wholeheartedly, though I'd probably say most of the spastic stuff is Panasonic Youth 2.0
Also, you mistyped Party Smasher once, just FYI.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
November 12th 2007


3995 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Cocaine, you shouldn't suggest that I proofread my reviews.

Iluv, new Coheed doesn't "own" this or anything.

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


6094 Comments


Really spot on review. I agree with a lot of your points. Your first paragraph kind of drags its feet, but it all comes together well.

I really like Calculating Infinity and Miss Machine is fun for a bit, but I really dislike this album. I'll probably go for a 2, but I'll save choosing a rating until I've heard something other than the MySpace stream.

Tyler
Emeritus
November 12th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Cocaine, you shouldn't suggest that I proofread my reviews.

Sorry?

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Iluv, new Coheed doesn't "own" this or anything.

lol nice change of opinion
Is there a reason you decided to omit Irony is a Dead Scene entirely?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


15743 Comments


Mire Works


Shark Sandwich? Shit Sandwich.

Digging: Flying Lotus - You're Dead!

chimera908
November 12th 2007


713 Comments


I need to hear this but I'll probably be dissapointed, good review.

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


6094 Comments


Why do you always put the band/album before the review?

JordanS
November 12th 2007


319 Comments


Calculating Infinity was phenomenal, and Miss Machine was a great release as well(largely because they took their music in such a different direction, rather than try and make CI:2). Instead of evolving again, they pretty much just stayed stuck in a rut with this one. Still solid at some parts, but it isn't nearly inventive or creative enough to warrant anything more than a 3.

Dissapointing, great review though.

3/5

Mikesn
Emeritus
November 12th 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty meh album. Some of the songs were alright though.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

LifeInABox
November 12th 2007


3709 Comments


It was a good review, except I sort of got the feeling that you liked the album more than you let on, but felt like you had to rate it lower because of its negatives. In other words, I don't think your review really fits the rating perfectly. I think a 2.5 would fit much better based on how you made this out.

plane
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


6094 Comments


The whole end paragraph kind of goes over that.

LifeInABox
November 12th 2007


3709 Comments


I was adressing the end paragraph, you fool!!1111

botb
November 12th 2007


9718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Some of the songs these guys wrote strike me as basically btbam songs without any crushing melody and powerful clean vocals. they've written a few good ones, but I could never really get into the random noise + blast beat + screaming sound of these guys.

LifeInABox
November 12th 2007


3709 Comments


:lol: Hmmm, blast beats? Indeed. And I have to agree that they sound just like Between The Buried And Me.
What rip offs!

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 12th 2007


16089 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

You are ironically hilarious.

Skyler
November 12th 2007


1084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

this album is pretty meh

and anyone who compares this to calculating infinity is an idiot. two completely
different bands.This Message Edited On 11.12.07

LifeInABox
November 12th 2007


3709 Comments


I try, John Hansen.
Is that you in your avatar btw?

botb
November 12th 2007


9718 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hmmm, blast beats? Indeed. And I have to agree that they sound just like Between The Buried And Me.

What rip offs!


I feel a hint of sarcasm in this :P

but i was assuming you knew what blast beats were... >_>



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