It seemed like a lot of people jumped on The Dillinger Escape Plan wagon after their 2nd album Miss Machine was released. The band spent what seemed like an eternity following up their classic debut Calculating Infinity and the resulting sophomore record was exceptionally timely. Bands like Everytime I Die, Converge, and As I Lay Dying were fashioning the foundations of their careers by fusing Metal, Hardcore, and other genres together. There appeared to be no better time for the band that was the best at this fusion to show everyone how it was done.
Miss Machine was abrasive, technical, and all encompassing like their debut but it differed in the sense that the industry playing field at the time had changed. The aforementioned increase of genre popularity allowed many of the band’s peers to transition from obscure underground acts to theatre filling headliners. Tracks like “Panasonic Youth” and “Sunshine the Werewolf” introduced the at times Mike Pattonesque vocalizations of new frontman Greg Puciato. This introduction was twofold in that Puciato implemented melody and actual singing along with the expected guttural yells and piercing shrieks.
When The Dillinger Escape Plan released their 3rd record Ire Works, it’s important to remember that at the time – they were still a relative newcomer to the mainstream pop/rock canon. Yes, I realize including Dillinger under the umbrella of pop/rock is a bit of a stretch but hear me out. In 2017, I almost feel like I’m accustomed to the sound of Dillinger. 6 full length albums have aided in entrenching that familiarity. The band’s musicality, instrumentation, and execution are still seemingly unbelievable but when I first heard Ire Works, it was LITERALLY unbelievable.
The Pride before the Fall indeed:
Aside from being musically unbelievable, Ire Works is also quite short (38:26), and incredibly pissed off sounding (the title Ire Works could not be more fitting). The one – two punch opening of “Fix Your Face” and “Lurch” combine together for a brief yet brilliant shot of 4 minutes and 44 seconds of music. While these tracks are executed with a savvy that is not known by many musicians, shit get’s REALLY interesting by the time track 3 rolls around.
Speaking of pop/rock and fitting song titles: “Black Bubblegum” is EXACTLY what this is. I can almost imagine Dillinger putting this track together and saying “dude, it’s bubblegum pop, but like, BLACK bubblegum pop.” Also, the groove in this particular track is insane.
From track 4 onwards, the songs really exemplify the uniqueness of Ire Works. Chief songwriter Ben Weinman has always been vocal about his love of Aphex Twin and that love shines through clearly deeper into the record:
This piece was supposed to be about “Mathcore” correct? Behold:
What the fuck is even going on here:
Some may not recall, but when Ire Works was released the band had a splash page where you could type whatever you liked and a text using the obtuse colored blocks that make up part of the album art would be created. I remember playing around with that page for quite some time. Speaking of the art, Frodus mastermind and mad genius Shelby Cinca absolutely nailed the album cover. That unusual blue triangular monolith type shape is simple yet effective. The liner notes underneath the CD tray even had instructions as to how to destroy the album in case of an emergency. Genius albums are not complete without appropriate visuals and ideas.
The 3 records released after Ire Works further opened the door for The Dillinger Escape Plan’s entrance into the Rock & Roll hall of fame but for all the reasons above, I’ll always consider Ire Works to be their finest hour. Or finest 38 minutes and 26 seconds.
The only thing that even comes close to rivalling the crowd walk Greg does is the music that is playing before the set begins. What the fuck is it anyway?