Monday, 30 January 2012

The Dillinger Escape Plan
Ire Works
Relapse Records
Out Now
Rating: 5/5

Now, I'm actually a believer that for the most part you can tell if you're going to like a band before you even hear them. Whether it's from a vague idea of the sort of guys and gals that listen to the band or the direction and density of hype you've been in the way of, prejudiced though it may be, you have a pretty good bullshit barometer built right in. Obviously however, there are a few bands that slip the net, and TDEP sadly are just one of those such bands, and a welcome reminder that despite gut feelings it's always worth checking a band out just in case. 

From having listened to them, I can see that the screamo-emo-whatever kids that infested (I choose my words carefully) my home town were probably name-dropping TDEP just to be out-there or to avoid saying "My Chemical Romance" too much when asked about bands at parties, but bigotry aside their back catalogue is really worth checking out. I recently said to friends that as a band they were simply "necessary", and I'm not sure that I can totally better that description of their music. Extreme, mathy and laden with (depending on the record) over-produced flourishes, glitch electronic or overwrought metal theatrics, the bedrock of the music is nevertheless edgy and scattershot, not so much ebbing and flowing as striking and withdrawing. 

Ire Works is incredible as an album - coherent, and flowing together with almost a prog-rock devotion to the format, it's also quite mind-boggling that only three out of thirteen songs clock in at over four minutes. 'Fix Your Face' and 'Lurch' combine to make a brutal opening salvo, kinetic riffs clocking up the intensity and the b.p.m. before 'Black Bubblegum' swaggers in with some wrong-footing pop sensibility. 'Sick on Sunday' brings things back to task, closing on an excellent faux Deftones art rock chug before 'Nong Eye Gong' and 'When Acting as a Wave' thrash out once more, the latter a paranoid back-and-forth motion of guitar slashes and glitch full-stops. 

The latter half of the album sees the tracks lengthen and the chords expand; 'Milk Lizard' is the closest the band come to radio-friendly, while 'Dead as History' is a slice of progressive metal that Tool would rightly be proud of. 'Mouths of Ghosts', the closer, actually sounds like a strange mix of The Who and Bowie for the first half of the track, moving in shades of quasi-world music eastern scales and rhythms. When the track finally cuts loose, bizarrely it kind of sounds like post-Make Yourself Incubus, Greg Puciato coming across with a Brandon Boyd sized croon and Ben Weinman's guitars becoming truly stadium-sized. 

Extreme, original, thrilling, and utterly, utterly mental, this album is absolutely essential in every important way. 

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