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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dillinger Escape Plan: "Ire Works"

If you were to take a look at my past reviews and judge what music I generally like based on them, you'd be incredibly surprised that I really enjoy Dillinger Escape Plan. Whether it's their undeniable ability to craft the most intricate music on the planet, or the fact that they tap into the most primal urge to throw restraint to the wind and rock out; Dillinger has had me since I first listened to their stuff several years ago. Miss Machine, was my introduction to the band. The album's more accessible moments ("Unretrofied" or "Phone Home") are originally what drew me in. Before I knew it, I was a full blown fan, picking up Calculating Infinity and scouring their numerous EPs for other great material. I am pleased to say Ire Works continues the bands tradition of making great music.

For those worried that the departure of drummer Chris Pennie would spell the end for the band's complex percussion, shame on you. You should know better. Despite this unfortunate event, the addition of Gil Sharone to the band changed absolutely nothing about the Dillinger's sound. Never is this more apparent than on "Fix Your Face" the album's strong, in-your-face opener. Greg's vocals are intimidating as ever, growling out "You were young and now you pay the price for her, price for her," with unparalleled force. "Lurch" seems to follow the same theme, lyrically, as the first song. Greg's ranting about a "little starlet" is haunting, and the guitars are all over the place as usual. It's amazing!

"Black Bubblegum" is the first "singing" song on the album, in the vein of "Unretrofied." It took a few listens before I started to like it. Greg enters a high falsetto several times throughout the course of the song, and hearing him sing "I had gotten frozen by the way you walked, by the love you gave, by the look on the face," is jarring simply because it seems completely uncharacteristic. The chorus completely washes away any doubt though, and should hopefully have the same effect on other skeptical listeners. The song is followed by "Sick on Sunday," a 2 minute song whose first 1:20 is mostly just filler. It doesn't really satisfy on any level.

"When Acting as a Particle" is just over a minute long, and while it could be labeled as filler as well, I've found it much more interesting and worthwhile. This instrumental song creeps up with chimes and violins before implementing the drums, all the while changing what is going on behind them. It's short, but interesting. "Nong Eye Gong" picks things back up again, if only for a brief moment. Despite it's brevity, I've found it to be one of my favorite tracks on the album. It's bookended by yet another instrumental, "When Acting as a Wave," which is also incredibly impressive. This time the band ditches the creepy vibe in favor of what feels like a jam session with a little production flare, including some electronic stutters. It all sounds great.

The album continues to impress from here. "82588" finds Greg reflecting on a fallen angel, crying "You were never a saint but now you're a sin, spoiled rotten from within. Who clipped your wings? Cut them yourself?" "Milk Lizard" brilliantly makes use of subtle brass instrumentation during the verses. The chorus leaves a lot to be desired, however, and at times I thought I was listening to Finger Eleven because the music was so easy and Greg's vocals sounded surprisingly similar to Scott Anderson's. Fortunately, "Party Smasher" does a fairly decent job of reminding me who I'm listening to again, sounding more like old-school Dillinger than any other song on the album.

"Dead as History" marks the first time that the band crosses the 5-minute mark, but the first 2 minutes serve only as a cool, but largely unnecessary introduction. Another accessible song, this one is breathtaking from start to finish. The production of the song is incredible, with little blips and beeps scattered throughout and an enchanting synth line following the second chorus. The song ends with Greg harmonizing with himself in a choir-like manner over a soft, complementing piano. It's the most different song Dillinger has ever made, and I love every minute of it. "Horse Hunter" is another fabulous song. Though more traditional, hearing Greg scream "Commerce is your god, cannibalistic flies, monarch of your womb, messiah of your thighs" at the top of his vocal register is just as amazing as anything in the song it follows.

Long-time fans may be turned off by the album's closer, "Mouth of Ghosts." You wouldn't think of Dillinger being able to pull of a Latin-jazz infused rock song, but that's exactly what they do here. The first 4 1/2 minutes lead you to believe that this song is the traditional comedown track, but it soon evolves into another brilliant example of how Dillinger can take one song and turn it into something completely different. He may begin the song singing, "Our trust runs out tonight," but by the end he's screaming "You were a mouth without a heart" with everything he has. It is a fantastic song and the end to a very strange journey of an album.

By the time your CD resets and you're hearing "Fix Your Face" again, you'll be utterly amazed that you're listening to the same band. I was! Long-time fans of Dillinger Escape Plan, and fans of grind and hardcore music in general may be turned off by the lighter moments of Ire Works, but hopefully the moments where the band turns everything up to 11 and rocks out will make up for that. Personally, I love almost every second of this album and I'm thrilled to add it to my collection of Dillinger records. I highly recommend it to fans and non-fans alike. Prepare to be blown away!

Key Tracks:
1. "Fix Your Face"
2. "Nong Eye Gong"
3. "Party Smasher"
4. "Dead as History"
5. "Horse Hunter"

7 out of 10 Stars

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