DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN - Miss Machine

Dillinger Escape Plan - Miss Machine

11 songs
39:54 minutes
***** *****
Relapse / Suburban

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Never before has an extreme metal album be awaited with such suspense before. While they certainly didn't invent the genre of progressive metal core, Dillinger Escape Plan were the ones to make it really big in the first place with their debut full length album Calculating Infinity in 1999. It certainly was a risky endeavour back then, and considering how many great bands have been ignored by the general audience in the past, I still don't understand how all of a sudden even mainstream people were all awed about DEP.

In the meantime it was rather quiet about these crazy Americans. We had to time to discover their two earlier EPs that never stood up to their regular debut, and while their collaboration with Mike Patton, Irony Is A Dead Scene (2002), received a lot of critical approval, it was not what I had come to expect of these musical innovators. So now, five years after their debut, we finally are allowed to listen to their sophomore effort Miss Machine, and although it's much different from what I expected, I am not at all disappointed. The opener Panasonic Youth is still rather typical, if even a hint wilder than what they did in the past. The shortness of this track must have been intended as the bridge from their beginnings to the present time. Already the second song, Sunshine The Werewolf, shows a wholly different face. While still containing fierce elements, it also adds very subtle electronic elements and a beautiful, slightly epic melody. From here on you will notice that the melodic aspect has changed a lot. On their debut, melody seemed to be used to make the angular moments feel more extreme, but this time, there is a more coherent balance between melodies and technicality, assuring thus a much wider commercial appeal that doesn't do any harm to the complexity of the album, meaning, this is still no easy listening even if some songs hint at it. Highway Robbery sounds just like Van Halen would have if they were a prog band instead of boozy rock'n'rollers. Van Damsel is again less melodic, heading into a sick proto-jazz direction. Phone Home is an attempt at industrial music, reminding me vaguely of Nine Inch Nails. We Are The Storm is just purely crazy prog jazz metal, could also have been on their debut. Crutch Field Tongs is less than a minute long, not really a song, and could have been left aside. Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants shows that DEP worked with Mike Patton in the past, this sounds like more daring Faith No More. Baby's First Coffin and The Perfect Design are again brutal jazz metal songs, but Unretrofied is the weirdest song they did ever, by actually not being weird at all. This is modern metal screaming for radio airplay, with vocals that are so melodic that even 14 years old kids won't run away scared.

A lot has changed with Dillinger Escape Plan, especially new vocalist Greg Puciato adds more diversity to the music. Yes, it all has become more commercial, or should we say, more accessible? With a fair balance of brutal songs and melodic parts, this is truly the new standard by which future metalcore albums need to be measured. Miss Machine owes a lot to different influences, but the intelligent songwriting makes this a wholly original album that improves by every succeeding listening session. Less than 10 points would be an insult to the greatness of this band.

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