The Dillinger Escape Plan and Mike Patton – Irony Is A Dead Scene EP
The Dillinger Escape Plan Are: Mike Patton (Vocals), Ben Weinman (Guitar), Brian Benoit (Guitar), Liam Wilson (Bass) and Chris Pennie (Drums).
After the departure of previous vocalist Dimitri Minakakis, and while trying to find a suitable replacement for him, the Dillinger Escape Plan were approached by renowned vocalist and general string-puller Mike Patton. At the time, Patton was touring with his main band, Mr.Bungle, but he expressed his interest in doing a record of some sort with them. Seeing as how there had been three years since their last release, and this IS Mike Patton, the band quite obviously said yes. On paper it’s a pretty interesting combination: possibly one of the craziest bands on the planet and possibly one of the craziest vocalists on the planet teaming up to do a record. However, quite often with these “supergroup" line-ups, the results fall far short of the artist’s individual material. If this is so, then “Irony is a dead scene" is the exception that proves the rule.
As soon as you hit the play button, you are launched into pure Dillinger material. Patton screams like he has never done so before the lyrics “Game over, I win, Game over, you win". The bands intensity never fades, as the song twists and turns its way through a variety of moods. The pace is generally pretty fast, and Patton really shows off his vocal talent, with a set of blood curdling yelps contrasted with creepy whispers. The man SOUNDS like a maniac. There’s a bit of a quieter section towards the end, where we get the more Faith No More style vocal from Patton, a lot more accessible. The band’s sheer creative talent on show here is astounding. They combine musical ferocity with random noise to create some of the most extreme music around at the moment. The song ends with Patton going crazy, and yelling “We’re Hollywood squares, going nowhere"
After this initial shock, “Pig Latin" is something of a chance to calm down. It starts with a slow, haunting guitar riff, which is added to by a keyboard. Patton enters next, singing softly. At the moment, this song is quite accessible, catchy infact, but you can tell that it is building up to sheer chaos. This comes in the form of the chorus, where the guitars explode and Patton squeals “Chinga" between the deep voiced lines. The guitars here are pretty chaotic too, sounding like each chord is being forcefully wrung out of them. Patton squeals his way out of this chaos, and we are left with a guitar that sounds like it’s being played through a pipe. The song then erupts even further, with the insanity of the opener returning, while Patton yells “Speaking pig Latin, kiss me goodnight" over the band, who are going all out. Somewhat strangely, after a few beeps the song then turns into a lounge style, albeit a lounge full of murderous psychopaths. Patton lounge vocal is a bit mocking here, being overtly deep but it works with the song. This fades back into the first verse, and then another chorus, devoid of all lyrics except the “Chinga". It ends with the song building up manically, while Patton squeals something incomprehensibly. This is the first Dillinger Escape Plan song that I heard, and definitely a good one if you’re interested in getting into the band.
“When Good Dogs Do Bad Things" is perhaps one of my favourite Dillinger songs, if not one of my all-time favourites. Everything here seems to be in place, and I was lucky enough to get the chance to see it performed live (Although it was new vocalist Greg Puciato as opposed to Patton, but he did a damn good job). It opens with Patton proclaiming, “I’m the best you’ve ever had" before the rest of the band come in. No other on this album matches the intensity of this song, and the guitarists show off their grasp of a multitude of musical styles. The riffs are all over the place at one moment, then fit into making perfect sense the next. Its just genius. After some gibbering from Patton, there’s a cool section involving him chanting the word “Mommy" rather creepily while the remainder of the band go nuts. It pauses periodically then resumes several times, giving a cool jerky effect to the song. The riffs get better and better as the song goes, and we delve deeper into Patton’s vocal abilities. More screams, yells, shouts, squeals and general insanity. There is a reason that this man is one of the best vocalists around today, and this song proves why. There’s a sudden ambient section, with a good drum solo from Pennie, and haunting, echoey vocals from Patton. The coolest section of the song comes next. One of the most dark sounding guitar parts you have ever heard ensues, very restrained and even darker for this reason. Patton sings VERY low here, when all of a sudden the song breaks out into some crazy screams and guitar madness. The drums in this song are amazing and it’s a surprise that Pennie can manage to stay on his seat half the time. The song fades out seemingly with a film reel, but then returns unexpectedly, shocking you, if you’re not ready for it.
The final song on this EP is a cover of Aphex Twin’s “Come To Daddy". This song was already pretty weird; as is the nature of Aphex Twin, but Dillinger add a new dimension of weirdness to it. Patton’s vocals throughout this song are pretty odd, sounding as if he’s about to puke up any moment, but it fits the disturbing nature of the song. Musically it isn’t as impressive as some of the others on the album. Pennie puts in a good performance, but the guitar is very simple, mostly repeating the same riff.
There’s a good bit in the middle, where the guitar line changes, then a new instrument or effect is added each time it is played. Patton pulls off some pretty weird stuff here. There’s a strange “trancy" section, which fades into a chilling piano part, and the song end. Although the low point of the EP, it’s still an awesome song.
This is not an EP for the masses. Although it is Dillinger’s most “normal" release, it certainly is a million miles from what is considered to be convention. Equal parts noise, chaos, and insanity, Dillinger truly have a sound of their own. With this album, they do somewhat fade behind Patton, and he is undoubtedly the star of the show, but the musicianship and creativity is still there, and this EP gives us a little hint of what was to come in their next album – “Miss Machine". Not as bluntly insane as “Calculating Infinity", this EP takes every aspect of that album and refines it somewhat. Dillinger certainly learnt a lot from making this EP, and after the agonising two year wait for “Miss Machine" the result was most definitely worth it.