Posted on February 19, 2010 -
‘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.