The Dillinger Escape Plan – “Farewell, Mona Lisa”
There’s no feeling in this place…
Whenever I think of the best metalcore acts of the decade – ha, nevermind – I never think about metalcore. That almost – almost – led me to overlook what should be an obvious inclusion on anyone’s decade list. The Dillinger Escape Plan are masters of art when it comes to their ingenious blend of mathcore and extreme metal; this very methodical, calculated madness. They’ve proven over the span of their entire career to be one of the most important and consistently excellent bands of their subgenre, and to be frank, any number of cuts could have been chosen to represent them on this playlist. For me, it’s “Farewell, Mona Lisa”, the jaw-dropping opener that kicked the doors down on 2010’s sensational Option Paralysis.
“Farewell, Mona Lisa” captures the despondence of modern times. It’s a struggle to break free from the mundane paths that life blandly bestows upon us and access a true, original purpose: “Our role is clear, never stray far from the path.” With the chaotic and complex riffing that swirls about the song’s backdrop, it plunges the listener’s senses into the sheer madness of trying to garner hope from the future during the 2010’s – a time where student loans essentially outweigh their benefits, young people are still living at home into their late twenties or beyond, wielding expensive book-smarts that may not even be applicable to real life, all while contending with unrealistic expectations as well as the intrinsic pressure of knowing that time is passing by. There’s just this overwhelming sense of rage – each mathy riff representing a controlled mental implosion – until it sinks gently into the apathy of clean vocals: ” Don’t you ever try to be more than you were destined for, or anything worth fighting for.” It’s basically a metaphor for the death of idealism; how life crushes our expectations right out of high school/college and forces us to conform to the bleakness of a world that has given up on itself. It’s devastating, but it’s beyond the scope of any individual to take up and fix himself/herself. Finally, the lead singer resigns, “there’s no feeling in this place.”
Instrumentally, “Farewell, Mona Lisa” is an absolutely electric experience. The drumming rips away at the boundaries of sanity, feeling like some kind of manic breakdown. The electric guitar riffs are just as frenetic, always on the brink of spiraling out of control due to sheer speed and complexity. The momentum shifts from lead-footed intensity to waxing depressed poetic to shrill, rage-filled screams is dizzying in all the best ways. There’s so, so few bands that could pull off a song this bold, thrilling, and emphatically convinced of itself. It’s a marvel, and one of mathcore’s decade benchmarks that is deserving of our undying adoration.