Review Summary: a greatly varied and well structured album that demonstrates just how strong and comfortable they’ve become in regards to stepping outside of their proverbial box and allowing an influx of new ideas.
The Dillinger Escape Plan is a band who pushes various musical styles to their limits. Their technical ability alone is incredible, but when combined with their affinity for various styles of music ranging from Grindcore to Metal to Alternative-rock the music put forth by the group is awe-inspiring. And Miss Machine is the perfect example of these limits being pushed. Previous releases from the band namely Calculating Infinity and Under The Running Board showcased a style of music that combined large amounts of technical instrumentation, powerful harsh vocals and stop-start mechanics that came together in a whirlwind of emotion and complexity.
However, as soon as the band had put forth the perfection of this style that is Calculating Infinity hundreds of copycats appeared, trying to be just as technical, original and downright insane as the DEP boys. Enter Greg Puciato a vocalist who combined several forms of harsh vocals, well sung cleans and Mike Patton inspired styles of presentation. On top of this add Chris Pennie asserting his dominance in the song writing game and a desire to include more varied instrumentation and you have Miss Machine.
Miss Machine essentially takes the style of earlier DEP works and expands on it in a variety of new ways. Many attribute the band’s collaboration with Mike Patton to be the primary reason this expansion occurred, but a quick look at band history shows us that the band discovered Puciato almost a full year before teaming up with Patton and that Chris Pennie had mentioned the band’s desire to evolve beyond their previous state numerous times. Nevertheless whatever the inspiration for the band’s altered sound, the fact is that here; it is done well.
Whilst the furious blows to the face that are typical DEP grind songs are of course present, how they are built is vastly different to their previous work. Making use of Puciato’s relatively large vocal range allows for tracks such as; Sunshine The Werewolf to really shine incorporating an extended breakdown that adds a whole new level of depth to the song. At the same time songs that make use of a more traditional structure appear on Miss Machine, the most obvious of which is Unretrofied. Whilst at times cheesy in the lyrical department, the song represents a new take on DEP’s sound, creating an almost pop-rock like track on a predominantly grind-based album is no easy feat and when you add in that the song is both well designed and fits within the album despite how different it is the credit can only be given to the songwriters.
Song writing is the major reason this album is as good as it is. Beyond the addition of more simplistic and standard ideas the band also adds greater emphasis to elements that had appeared in their previous sound. Most notably is the use of electronics, Pennie demonstrates a keen aptitude by combining various styles of electronica with the overall sound of the album. This ranges from glitch effects to keyboard sections and a wide range of sound manipulation. The most notable track in regards to these alterations is Phone Home which introduces a subdued DEP putting forth a dark and twisted song that makes full use of their talents and shows off a large amount of influence from industrial music.
All in all Miss Machine isn’t the groundbreaking landmark of an album that Calculating Infinity was, but in terms of flow and song writing it’s probably the better of the two. The introduction of new elements and the expansion of previous aspects have allowed DEP to create a greatly varied and well structured album that demonstrates just how strong and comfortable they’ve become in regards to stepping outside of their proverbial box and allowing an influx of new ideas.