Five years ago a band only a few had heard of released a groundbreaking album called “Calculating Infinity”. Their sound was unlike anything heard before, mixing almost all imaginable elements together. Death Metal, Jazz, Punk, Hardcore and whatnot were hand in hand on that album and the result was a keg of chaos ready to blow. Critics loved it, so did the fans and the band became famous. Now THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN is back with a new full-length, which is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated releases of the year. I’m sure many people are asking themselves will “Miss Machine” live up to its predecessor. Well the answer for my part is a clear and loud yes and even more!
The chaotic elements that made “Calculating Infinity” what it is are still there, but the band has managed to make “Miss Machine” sound more coherent, more dynamic. The moods change more evenly throughout the album whereas on “…Infinity” the listener was dragged through the whole spectrum of emotions in a single song. Sure it’s still chaotic but it’s more controlled chaos than ever. All in all the tracks are more relaxed and calm than on their previous full-length but don’t be fooled by this. For example just when you’re starting to relax along the calm part of “We Are The Storm” the song turns on you and attacks like a raging wolverine trying to rip your throat. DEP has also introduced some new elements to their music that I don’t think they’d been able to on “Calculating Infinity”. For example there’s some distinctive NINE INCH NAILS like Industrial/Ambient elements like on the tracks “Highway Robbery” and the brilliant “Phone Home” and “Unretrofied”. And these new elements work incredibly well here, adding depth and making the songs flow a little easier. “Sunshine The Werewolf” even throws in some distorted soundtrack like violins and other orchestral instruments amidst the raging storm. The “familiar” screaming chaos of DEP is most evident in tracks like “Panasonic Youth”, “Van Damsel” and “The Perfect Design”.
However the most surprising thing about “Miss Machine” is that it’s rather catchy at times, especially the tracks that sound a bit like NIN get the head nodding. “Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants” is probably the catchiest song here with its brilliant “chorus”. As hard as it is to believe the song even has some hit potential. “Baby’s First Coffin”, which already appeared on the soundtrack of “Underworld”, is perhaps the best track to describe the new sound of DEP. It’s a perfect mix of chaos and peace.
The musicianship is absolutely not an issue here. Everyone should know by now that the members of DEP are little short of musical prodigies and could play almost any other Metal musician down into the mud if they wanted to. The new singer Greg Puciato fits the band very well. Both his clean vocals and harsh screams are awesome and depict the chaotic nature of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN perfectly.
“Miss Machine” is just as intense and hard hitting as their “Calculating Infinity” but still rather than sticking to the existing formula DEP has greatly evolved since their previous full-length. It’s evident that the “Irony Is A Dead Scene” EP the band did with Mike Patton has had an effect and thanks to it the band has become more adventurous and progressive, almost futuristic without losing their original touch. I’m pretty sure some hardcore DEP fans aren’t going to like this but that’s their loss for even though “Miss Machine” isn’t as groundbreaking as “Calculating Infinity” it’s just as outstanding performance from one of today’s most unique and forward-thinking bands. “Miss Machine” walks firmly, or more like dances skilfully yet elegantly on the microscopic line between chaos and peace. Everyone and I really mean everyone, would do well to check out the brilliance of “Miss Machine”, especially if you’re looking for something diverse and challenging yet easily approachable and even catchy music. There are a couple of songs available on both Relapse’s and DEP’s homepages. I for one am so impressed I can already say that this one’s going to be quite high on my list of top albums of the year...
P.S. But why on earth did they have to screw up the promo by dividing those 11 songs into 99 tracks?! (Online September 23, 2004)