The Dillinger Escape Plan have been viewed as one of the key players in the 21st century metal scene, which undoubtedly says a lot more about the state of what’s new in the world of metal than it does about the band. Nevertheless, when they released this record in 2010 it was clear that they were on a hot streak. This band’s bizarre mix of Radiohead-esque indie rock sensibility, metalcore, and awkward experimentation (an abomination known as ‘mathcore’) is a perfect indictment of how confused and directionless a large portion of the metal scene has become, but this band remains quite popular and critically acclaimed regardless.
Right off the bat on the opening track “Farewell, Mona Lisa”, the band’s awkward conditions are offered to us in full force. The most disappointing thing about this track is that when it attempts to do something progressive and experimental, it’s honestly pretty cool; it’s just all the more unfortunate the these guys are incapable of putting together a coherent basis for which to maintain such elements. The next track to mention is without a doubt the best track on the record, “Gold Teeth on a Bum”. The reason this track succeeds more than any other on the record is that it holds itself together quite well. Too often, the problem with this band is that their frantic, presumed sense of urgency doesn’t sit well with their more progressive and experimental bits, but this track is a rare example of them making it work. There are often exceptions to every rule. Don’t get too comfortable, because on the very next track, “Crystal Morning”, the band slip right back into their more prevalent, negative qualities, as vocalist Greg Puciato again lets out his almost unbearable harsh vocals. This vibe is mostly what carries the listener through to the very end of the record, where the band closes with “Parasitic Twins”, an albeit much more tolerable piece of work than what leads up to it and showing off some of the band’s more wide-ranging influences.
So, let’s be blunt: The Dillinger Escape Plan, generally speaking, are rubbish. They’re a highly overrated band that doesn’t understand musical cohesion and clearly have no objections to creating something that is totally awkward and off-putting. With that said, some of their better influences shine through from time to time and when they do so in a respectable manner, it can make for some interesting material (as heard on “Gold Teeth on a Bum” and “Parasitic Twins”). The problem is that their negative tendencies outweigh the positive tendencies and it’s not even close. To a certain degree, they do deserve props for digging and clawing their way to the very top of the metal playing field. They have a large, albeit confused, fan base; they’re critically acclaimed; they have essentially earned their place in the annals of popular music, but anybody who thinks that they deserve a spot alongside 21st century metal giants, like Mastodon and Opeth, are sadly fooling themselves. It’ll be interesting to see, now that the band has broken up, whether or not their influence over the metal scene will dissipate.