Review Summary: When Good Bands Do Good Things...
It's funny. Music can be more polarizing than politics. And its followers, even more devout. So when a band as well-respected as The Dillinger Escape Plan, switches things up and tries something new; reactions and results can be... unstable.
Luckily for us, instability is this foursome's forte.
is the latest step in DEP's unusual evolution. From their ruthelessly mathematic beginnings, DEP have continued to travel in the path initially laid out by their previous effort, Miss Machine
. The record has all the traits of the Dillinger sound, but provides even more room for experimentation. The result is an unapologetically ambiguous record that is bound to delight and confuse longtime fans along with the inevitable thousands of new ones.
Of course, the DEP's roots have not been abandoned by any stretch. "Lurch" is the band at its most frenetic, with constantly changing time signatures and over-the-top guitar riffs that get burnt into your brain after several listens. "Nong Eye Gong" has a very similar effect. Clocking in at a paltry 1:16, the track is relentlessly brutal especially when listening to the album in full as the song is preceded by three "soft" songs. The guitar riff that comes in at the 0:27 is off-putting enough to make you feel as if you might be teetering towards the wrong side of sanity. Perhaps the best example of intensity on the album is found on "82588." The drums and guitars put their chaotic nature to the breaking point throughout the song and climax with a devastating muted staccato riff at 0:58. The lyrics are perhaps the most memorable with Puciato belting out artfully sarcastic lines to a fallen angel.
"Who clipped you wings so useless? Cut them yourself? Chewed off your own? Good Thinking!"
As for the experimental side of the this record, most listeners will obviously point at "Black Bubblegum" as the easy target. The song, sadly, is more of a missed opportunity than a satirical pop song with all the weaknesses of a typical pop song and nothing terribly new to add. This would be acceptable with any other band, but DEP has made a career out of throwing something new to the table at every corner, so in that respect, the song is a disappointment. But patience is key, and later in the album, DEP delivers to listeners both "Milk Lizard" and "Horse Hunter." The former is, for the most part, a straightforward hard rock song with DEP's signature vocals and... trumpets? This means simply, that its a decent song that can be quite fun to scream along to, nothing more.
"Horse Hunter," however, IS something more. It is a nearly perfected formula of DEP's chaos with an atmospheric tone. It starts as most DEP songs do, but the evolution of structure throughout its three minutes is the sort of potential that the preceding songs, for the most part, only hinted at. In short, if there is one song that must be heard off Ire Works
, it should be "Horse Hunter."
is not perfect. It's not even quite excellent, though there are flashes of excellence in its duration. The middle section is comprised of short instrumentals that never really go anywhere and the longer tracks "Dead As History" and "Mouth of Ghosts" suffer the same problems. The former has a surprisingly strong chorus, but is weighed down by boring song structure and an unnecessarily long beginning. "Mouth of Ghosts" is an attempt at full-on atmosphere, but it's mostly just random samples of piano work and electronics. Instrumental meanderings that go in no particular direction can be entertaining, but when the wandering pushes beyond the six minute mark, its simply testing the listener's patience.
In the end, Ire Works
is an album of valleys and troughs; much like the economy, politics, war... hell, even everyday life. But unlike these things, most listeners will walk away, not just wanting, but expecting much, much more. The Dillinger Escape Plan has placed their hand in the proverbial cookie jar of musical exploration. Let us hope that they pull out something even darker and tastier than this delicious morsel.