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Ire Works

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(36 Reviews)

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  • Sure to be on many lists as the avant-garde go-to posterboys of the year, The Dillinger Escape Plan once again manage to raise the ante and boldy go where (nearly) no one has gone before. Complex, experimental, and sarcastic, “Ire Works” is a hard album to love or hate. Veering wildly from the now stereotypical “mathcore” blueprint of outrageous heaviness and complexity to Da Da-esque absurdity and funky, hook-laden pop, the average listener to much of what passes for popular music these days should probably be forgiven for percieving this album as some sort of weird joke…and therein lies the genius.

    For all the abrasive, pummeling intensity of the one-two punch album opener of “Fix Your Face” and “Lurch”, one is suddenly confronted with it’s polar opposite, the Rick James-meets-J-pop-sugary-sweet-catchiness of “Black Bubblegum”, and the rest of this bizarre release begins to conform to this pattern, constantly catching you off guard and revealing yet another humorously skewed post-metal in-joke. Imagine, if you will, an aberrant auditory conglomeration of King Crimson, Meshuggah, Mr Bungle, Tangerine Dream, Return To Forever and the Flaming Lips, and you might be in the ballpark. It is quite an interesting, fun and oddly addictive experience for the musically adventurous. Cool stuff.

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • 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

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I haven’t written a review in a long time, and the negative responses to Ire Works angered me enough to write a retort of my own. I can only put it this way – those who criticize this record for not being like Calculating Infinity, quite simply, are not artists. You may play music, but you are not an artist. I’m not necessarily saying I am a great musician, or an artist at all, but I think I understand the creative process well enough to “get” what Ben and company are doing here. This band, first of all, is not the same lineup as the one that created Calculating Infinity. And secondly, the one person left, Ben Weiman, is an absolute genius. He definitely has the capacity to create another Calculating Infinity. I’m sure he’s got all sorts of great riffs, solos, and spazzy jazz guitar runs milling around in his head. No one writes music like him. And all he did on Calculating Infinity was put a bunch of riffs together, and have someone yell incoherently over it. I’m a fan of the record, the energy and technicality are quite frankly mindblowing – and many, many DEP fans were made on the basis of that record. I know I was. However it takes maturity to recognize it for what it really is, a band with tons of ideas quickly getting something creative out there. Miss Machine, and Ire Works by extension, have made DEP into something much more than a niche extreme metal act who specialize in one “trick.” Metal can be so limiting, which is why 95% of extreme metal acts just make the same record over and over again for their entire careers. There are only so many different combinations of bass/guitar interlocking riffs and screaming vocals out there. Dillinger Escape Plan has made a complete work of art with Ire Works. They have established themselves, in my opinion, as the Radiohead of this kind of music. That doesn’t mean they’re the best extreme metal band out there (I think that is Mastodon) but I make the Radiohead comparison for a reason. Radiohead and DEP (on Ire Works) make music that reveals itself differently over hundreds and hundreds of listens. To achieve this kind of artistic pinnacle, you must be firing on all cylinders. There must be great lyrics, great riffs, great melodies, great instrumental performances on every song from every player, and there must be an unparalleled attention to detail. There must be that something extra. Both Radiohead and DEP (on Ire Works) hide little surprises in the mixes, electronic blips here and there, a tambourine mixed deep on a track, atmospherics, swirling guitars you never noticed, a buried haunting vocal scream you never heard until the 50th time, and on and on. And they’re not superfluous, they are part of the song in an important, if not immediately accessible, way. The songs on Ire Works have revealved themselves to me gradually over the course of dozens of listens. I can speak only for myself (though I’m sure other reviewers will agree) but this is what makes an album an “experience.” This is what makes captital A “ART” in my humble opinion. Ire Works, Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue – these examples are not just great musical recordings but statements that have transcended “popular music,” at least for myself.

    The criticism comes from lame scenesters and angry kids, or angry kids at heart, who cannot stomach “their” band achieving this kind of SUCCESS – it is simply beyond their comprehension. This same old song and dance is repeated every year, a band grows, and their old fans reject the new sound. But this situation, I feel, is slightly different. Dillinger Escape Plan still traffics, by and large, in the same kind of extreme, jarring, very difficult heavy metal-hardcore music. Your average pop fan or average hard rock fan would think much of this record – even Milk Lizard – is unlistenable. Pucciato’s grating yells and abrasive vocal attitude, not to mention the screaching guitars and perverse time signatures would be enough to turn most mainstream music fans away from this record, even at its “poppiest” moments. Some of the most aggressive songs on this record would have been right at home on Calculating Infinity, except that they’re even better. They ebb and flow even while the rhythms perplex – this is called great heavy metal songwriting. No one can pull it off like this band. The attention to detail in the recording and mixing process, again, reminds me of Radiohead. It’s absolute headphone perfection. So again, if you don’t at least appreciate the strides this band has made from the days of Calculating Infinity, then you do not understand what art is. It is a process, a metamorphasis, a gradual awakening. You might prefer other Dillinger records (though for my money this is far and away their best) but if you do not at least understand that Black Bubblegum is an incredible pop rock song, that When Acting as a Particle is a great slice of ambient music, and that Dead as History is spectacular progressive rock – whether or not you like these genres – then you are not a sophisticated listener. I hate to be judgmental, or proclaim my opinion as fact, but this is how I see it. Dillinger Escape Plan have launched themselves into waters where few bands have dared to tread. This record deserves to be seriously approached and respected as great art and not just as a good ole headbanging time (though it certainly can be both, and is!). There are thousands of groups of that provide thrash riffs and screaming. There are only a handful that demand and command so much from the listener. Don’t have it from these lame scenesters, experience this transcednece – over and over again – for yourself, in your own way. Dillinger wouldn’t have it any other way. Also, this album rocks amazingly hard.

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Expectations were high for this album. That tends to happen when a band takes a few years of touring and changing members around between releases, so in a sense, the chips were somewhat stacked against DEP before this record even hit the stores. Still, there was always hope that they would blow a few minds… the growth apparent over the course of their discography made it almost impossible to guess what Ire Works might sound like. Would it be the calculated chaos of Calculating Infinity? The melodic mathcore of Miss Machine? The experimental ennui of Irony is a Dead Scene? I have good news: It’s all of those things.

    Ire Works starts off with a bang on “Fix Your Face” and continues the expected brutality with “Lurch,” but by the time you get to the third track “Black Bubblegum” something is amiss… in a good way. Dillinger sounds focused in a way they never have before. Sure, they’ve always been good at math, but on Ire Works they’re allowing themselves the room to be song-writers first and headache inducers second. This is not a bad thing. Listen to the instrumental (!) tracks “When Acting as a Particle” and “When Acting as a Wave” to see just how far these boys have come, and why they’ve grown exponentially in popularity. Yes, this is the same DEP that melted faces off with 43% burnt, but they’ve surpassed themselves yet again.

    Witness the beautiful and haunting “Dead as History.” The piano is pushed to the forefront and the melody is allowed to come out and play. Of course immediately following that is the all-out barrage of “Horse Hunter,” which melts into a jazz-influenced breakdown and then goes all out thrash.

    Those fans who want a return to the pure chaos of the old days might be disappointed, but I have a hard time believing that. This record is simply amazing. I almost took a star off because it’s so short, but after listening to it, I didn’t feel as though I was left wanting. The boys put together an album that feels like a complete journey, and for that fact alone, this album is worth checking out even for those unfamiliar with the assault that is the Dillinger Escape Plan. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • ‘Miss Machine’ was, of course, a controversial release for DEP. I’m in the apparent minority which considers ‘Miss Machine’ equal, if not superior, to ‘Calculating Infinity’. Personally, I like albums that actually have a mix of sophistication and a certain amount of accessibility, and ‘Miss Machine’ did this beautifully, even if it was at the cost of some of the sheer unrelenting madness of ‘Calculating Infinity’. Overall, however, I think it balanced out, and I was prepared for further change with ‘Ire Works’, whatever it might be.

    Unsurprisingly, ‘Ire Works’ is an extension of the ideas found in ‘Miss Machine’, and it’s sure to raise the ire(hahaha) of many a fan. That said, some are severely overstating the change. I’ve noticed that at least two people here have compared this to the change Metallica underwent by making the Black Album. This is a comically ridiculous comparison, and I say that as someone who doesn’t see that release as an abomination before God and Man. First of all, roughly half of the material here would fit in on ‘Calculating Infinity’ nicely. You sure as hell can’t say that of the Black album and Metallica’s 80’s material. Second, there are only two really overtly commercial tracks on here. (‘Black Bubblegum’ and ‘Milk Lizard’, of course.) ‘Sick on Sunday’, ‘Dead As History’ and ‘Mouth of Ghosts’ may not be old-school DEP, but they ain’t gonna get much play on the radio either, and the idea that this album is, as a whole, particularly commerical is truly laughable. I’ll admit that I think they maybe went a little too far and I think this could definitely stand to have maybe one more pure tech-metalcore track. Still, the fact of the matter is that all the material here is first-rate, so I can’t complain too much. Anwyway, with an album this dense, I’m not prepared to say whether or not it’s superior or inferior to their earlier releases, but I can say that it’s worthy of being mentioned alongside them, creating a three-release sequence that few bands can match.

    Again, ‘Ire Works’ is an extension of ‘Miss Machine’, continuing to mix DEPs signature frenetic, flailing technical metalcore with electronic elements and some singing/melody. We’ve got a few changes, with Gil Sharone taking over on drums, Ben Weinman now the sole guitarist and a sharper, much more expensive production, particularly when compared to the rougher than expected ‘Miss Machine’. None of these changes hurt the band, in my estimation. Weinman is more than sufficient to cover the guitars in the studio, Sharone is, if anything, more manic than his predecessor, and the production is crystal-clear without sacrificing any intensity.

    The openers, ‘Fix Your Face’ and ‘Lurch’ ought to satisfy old-time DEP junkies, though no doubt some will naysay them anyway. The guitars are pure metallic shards twisted through lightning fast, shifting time signatures, the drums a mad, jazz-metal cacophony and Puciato’s vocals primarily either a feral shriek or roar. This is vintage DEP, and few people can do it like them. On the downside, they can’t quite match the extravagant brilliance of these tracks with any of the later tech tracks, but they’re all very good.

    Then the album takes a weird turn. ‘Black Bubblegum’ is the most controversial track, and while I can respect why some people hate it, I don’t. Fact is, I like it a lot. No, it’s not particularly sophisticated, certainly not sophisticated at all by DEP standards, but it’s a fun, catchy track. I wouldn’t want ‘em to make an album exclusively like this, but in the whole context I think it works well. The pacing also gets a bit off at this point, with two neat interludes followed by a very short tech track followed by another short, ‘Calculating Infinity’+ more electronics style instrumental. I’ve nothing against having what is almost an intermission in the album, but it comes too early.

    Anyway, after this sort of interlude we get to ‘82588′ and ‘Party Smasher’, two more caustic, tech-metal barrages, which are sandwiched around another controversial track, ‘Milk Lizard’. ‘82588′ and ‘Party Smasher’ aren’t as good as the two openers, but they’re still remarkably solid, and I’m, again, fond of the controversial song. ‘Milk Lizard’is a bit more out there than ‘Black Bubblegum’, but you can still see it being played on the radio. Nevertheless, I think it works as such, with a varied, powerful performance from Puciato and a nice epic ending.

    The album closes with three more unusual tracks. ‘Dead as History’ reminds somewhat of ‘Phone Home’, as it’s another relatively slow-burning, electronically tinged track, albeit with more melody this time around. Again, I wouldn’t want them to make an entire album of this material, but it works as a one-off on a particular album. ‘Horse Hunter’ opens up as another techy number, but it gets a bit more conventional as it moves on, changing into straight up pounding metallic punk mixed with some ghostly, falsetto melody. Not the best track here, but it definitely works. Finally we get to the unusual closer, ‘Mouth of Ghosts’. This is a moody, low-key number with smooth, flowing bass, jazzy piano, ethereal, reverberating guitars all before the expansive, epic close. Initially I didn’t think this one totally worked, but after a few listens I think it’s a great and unexpected closer. The last minute and a half is just fantastic, with perhaps Puciato’s most emotional, affecting vox ever. It’s an effective culmination of the album.

    Anyway, there’s not much else to say. This is just a remarkably sophisticated, intense album, and DEP are perhaps the best band on the planet. Get it.

    Posted on February 19, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now