Dillinger Escape Plan

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Calculating Infinity (1999), 7/10
Miss Machine (2004), 6.5/10
Ire Works (2007), 6.5/10
Option Paralysis (2010) , 5/10
Dissociation (2016), 4.5/10

The Dillinger Escape Plan, formed in New Jersey in 1997 by guitarist Ben Weinman, completely revolutionized the concept of grindcore. Their rage is modulated by quite skilled playing, highlighted by sophisticated guitar riffs and complex polyrhythms. The six-song EP Dillinger Escape Plan (Now Or Never, 1997) and the three-song EP Under The Running Board (Relapse, 1998) displayed a ferocious but methodic grafting of speed metal, hardcore and even jazz on the trunk of grindcore.

With guitarist Brian Benoit and bassist Jeff Wood replacing Adam Doll (who was left paralyzed after an accident), their first full-length, Calculating Infinity (Relapse, 1999), only 33 minutes in length, showed even more dexterity. The formidable impact of high-speed missiles like Sugar Coated Sour and Variations On A Cocktail Dress make it clear that this music is grounded in grindcore, although it evolved into its own biological organism. Dimitri Minakakis' horsely screamed vocals paint a terrible picture of the world he inhabits. Horror and mayhem permeate 4th Grade Dropout, echoed by the eerie and sinister instrumentals *#.. and Weekend Sex Change.
But, buried somewhere in the rubble, are jazz elements (especially in 43% Burnt and Destro's Secret). Tracks like Calculating Infinity (perhaps the defining moment here), Jim Fear and The Running Board actually resort to the odd time signatures and tempo shifts and hypnotic guitar scalings of progressive-rock. They rarely play 4/4 tempo.

The EP Irony Is A Dead Scene (Epitaph, 2002) is a collaboration with Mike Patton.

Miss Machine (Relapse, 2004), their first album in five years, featuring new vocalist Greg Puciato instead of Minakakis, was a whirlwind of stylistic ideas, but less difficult than the previous one. The wedding of post-rock and grindcore leads to the unstable dynamics and unnerving textures of Panasonic Youth and Baby's First Coffin, which ripple through the rest of the album. An impressive amount of experimenting goes into tense songs such as Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants (one of their catchiest refrains is buried here), the menacing but relatively restrained Phone Home and Unretrofied (the most original rhythmic construction and another catchy theme), with frequent musical contradictions, including quiet passages in the middle of brutal frontal attacks. Mutant songs such as Sunshine the Werewolf and We Are the Storm host a lengthy slow and melodic intermezzo. The dense viscous walls of sound hide disorienting nuances (e.g., pathos-rich keyboards). Nonetheless, the straightforward Highway Robbery competes with the vehement punk-rock of the Dead Kennedys. This album is an exhausting experience, one that testifies to the band's originality and competence, although it may detract from the overall cohesiveness.

Error (Epitaph, 2004) is the project of Dillinger Escape Plan's singer Greg Puciato and Bad Religion's guitarist Brett Gurewitz.

Ire Works (Relapse, 2007), recorded before original drummer Chris Pennie left the band to join Coheed and Cambria (replaced by Gil Sharone), was another impressive display of musicianship, notably on the part of guitarist Ben Weinman, the sole remaining original member, and bassist Liam Wilson. They careened through ferocious speed-infected songs such as Fix Your Face, Lurch, 82588, Party Smasher, Nong Eye Gong. And at the same time they engaged in duets with beat-boxes (Sick on Sunday), strings (When Acting as a Particle), horns (the radio-friendly Milk Lizard), synthesizers (When Acting as a Wave, Sick on Sunday, Dead as History). There is even a relatively catchy ditty, Black Bubblegum (which boasts an acrobatic performance by Puciato, who feels otherwise often out of context during his cohorts' convoluted jams). However, many of these gestures sound cold and artificial, only loosely integrated in an organic whole. Many sound like they were conceived as a means in itself. The album is not so much exciting as intimidating.

(Translation by/Tradotto da Davide Carrozza)

I Dillinger Escape Plan, formati nel New Jersey nel 1997 dal chitarrista Ben Weinman, rivoluzionarono completamente il concetto di grindcore. La loro rabbia è modulata attraverso una buona tecnica, illuminata da riff chitarristici sofisticati e poliritmi complessi. Le sei canzoni dell'EP The Dillinger Escape Plan (Now Or Never, 1997) e le tre dell'EP Under The Running Board (Relapse, 1998) mostravano un innesto feroce ma metodico di speed metal, hardcore e persino jazz nel tronco del grindcore.

Con il chitarrista Brian Benoit e il bassista Jeff Wood al posto di Adam Doll (rimasto paralizzato dopo un incidente), il loro primo album, Calculating Infinity (Relapse, 1999), di soli 33 minuti di durata, mostrava ancora più destrezza. L'impatto formidabile di missili ad alta velocità come Sugar Coated Sour e Variations On A Cocktail Dress chiariscono che questa musica è basata sul grindcore, sebbene si evolva nel suo organismo biologico. Le urla di Dimitri Minakakis dipingono un ritratto terribile del mondo in cui vive. Orrore e caos permeano 4th Grade Dropout, riecheggiata dalle inquietanti e sinistre strumentali *#.. e Weekend Sex Change.
Ma elementi jazz sono sepolti da qualche parte sotto le macerie (specialmente in 43% Burnt e Destro's Secret). Tracce come Calculating Infinity (forse il momento determinante, qui), Jim Fear e The Running Board ricorrono ai tempi bizarri, ai cambi di velocità e alle scale chitarristiche ipnotiche del rock progressivo. Raramente suonano in 4/4.

L'EP Irony Is A Dead Scene (Epitaph, 2002) è una collaborazione con Mike Patton.

Miss Machine (Relapse, 2004), il loro primo album in cinque anni, con il nuovo cantante Greg Puciato al posto di Minakakis, è un turbine di idee stilistiche, ma meno difficile dell'album precedente. Il matrimonio tra post-rock e grindcore porta alle dinamiche instabili e alle snervanti strutture di Panasonic Youth e Baby's First Coffin, che gorgoliano per il resto dell'album, anche se in toni in continuo cambiamento. Si trova una quantità impressionante di esperimenti in canzoni tese come Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants (che nasconde uno dei loro ritornelli più orecchiabili), la minacciosa ma relativamente contenuta Phone Home e Unretrofied (con la più originale costruzione ritmica più un altro tema orecchiabile), con frequenti contraddizioni musicali, inclusi passaggi quieti nel mezzo di brutali attacchi frontali. Pezzi mutanti come Sunshine the Werewolf e We Are the Storm conducono un intermezzo lento e melodico. I densi e viscosi muri del suono nascondono sfumature disorientanti (come le tastiere patetiche). Ciononostante, la semplice Highway Robbery compete con il punk-rock veemente dei Dead Kennedys. È un'esperienza esauriente, che testimonia l'originalità e la competenza della band, nonostante costituisca una detrazione dalla coesione d'insieme. E, per un album completato in così tanto tempo, contiene un po' troppi riempitivi.

Error (Epitaph, 2004) è il progetto del cantante dei Dillinger Escape Plan Greg Puciato e del chitarrista dei Bad Religion Brett Gurewitz.

Ire Works (Relapse, 2007), registrato prima che il batterista originale Chris Pennie lasciasse la band per unirsi ai Coheed and Cambria (sostituito da Gil Sharone), è un'altra impressionante dimostrazione di perizia musicale, soprattutto da parte del chitarrista Ben Weinman, l'unico membro originale restante, e del bassista Liam Wilson. Carenano per canzoni feroci e veloci come Fix Your Face, Lurch, 82588, Party Smasher, Nong Eye Gong. Nel contempo si impegnano in duetti con beatbox (Sick on Sunday), archi (When Acting as a Particle), fiati (Milk Lizard), sintetizzatori (When Acting as a Wave, Sick on Sunday, Dead as History). C'è anche un ritornello relativamente orecchiabile, Black Bubblegum (che vanta una performance acrobatica di Puciato, che si sente spesso fuori contesto durante le convolute improvvisazioni dei suoi colleghi). Tuttavia, molto di ciò suona freddo ed artificiale, solo liberamente integrato in un tutto organico. Molto suona come se fosse concepito come un mezzo in sé. L'album non è così eccitante quanto intimidatorio.

Gil Sharone left to concentrate on his band Stolen Babies and was replaced by new drummer Billy Rymer. The lineup changes began to take a toll on Option Paralysis (2010), that sounded almost smooth (anathema for early DEP) and even classy (especially Widower).

The Dillinger Escape Plan disbanded and released their last album, Dissociation (Cooking Vynil, 2016), that feels like a collection of rarities, spanning a broad range of styles and including too many duds. Given the mediocre material, Limerent Death is easily the standout, a sort of disjointed rockabilly introduced by the full crushing power of the band; but the emphatic Surrogate is a close second, a psychodrama of acute neurosis; and Nothing To Forget shows that the band had power-pop potential with a melody but sounds like dark-punk of the 1980s and, above all, a romantic intermezzo a` la Muse. Unfortunately, most of the songs indulge in a lot of vain doodling that is sold as creative arrangement. Some of them are just dressings for what would otherwise be considered old-fashioned ballads, such as Symptom Of Terminal Illness, with a poppy refrain and doom-y overtones, and, worst of all, Dissociation, an embarrassing litany with strings and choral singalong. There is a residue of death ferocity in Wanting Not So Much To As To and its explosive drumming, but the song is ruined by a tedious spoken-word break. There is some imaginative drumming in Apologies Not Included to show that the musicianship was there. But every is second-rate and rather lame. Due to the raspy vocals, Low Feels Blvd, sounds like AC/DC without the melody, and then even decays into fusion-jazz and prog-rock. The instrumental Fugue is an abstract soundscape of digital dance beats and samples, the kind of things that Squarepusher were doing two decades earlier.

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