Track Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan- Symptom of Terminal Illness

The Dillinger Escape Plan are soon to be no more. And that really bums me out. But if they do need to call it quits, it’s nice that they cut it short rather than allow themselves to burn out. Shortly after revealing the first single of their new album, Dissociation, the band announced they are going to be breaking up after twenty years of musical violence and experimentation at the end of the cycle for the album. *single tear emoji* But there’s still this final album, and in light of the announcement, this is going to be a big deciding factor in how the last hurrah of this band is going to go down. Thankfully, the first song released from the album, “Limerent Death”, was one of the band’s most aggressive and chaotic pieces since their genre-defining debut record, Calculating Infninity, packed with all that delicious mathy goodness that I love oh so much. 

 I was expecting more of the same from this new track, “Symptoms of a Terminal Illness”, but this is a much different beast than the preceding track. This song, rather than the squalling guitar attack and constantly shifting tempo the band are known for, opts for a slow but tense turning of the screw. The spasmodic rhythmic touches are still here, but are more subtle. Rather than try to pull the rug out from under you just as you think you’ve settled into the groove, the whole metric vibe here goes for just being slightly off. It’s a lot easier to follow this but little extra eight-notes here and odd articulation of the 4/4 time there keep you on your toes enough to let that off-kilter Dillinger vibe settle in still.

In addition to it’s more nuanced rhythmic approach, the content falls under the more melodic area of songs that the band pepper into their releases, usually to cleanse the pallet before another auditory beating ensues. While this doesn’t have the frequent genre-shifting qualities of a track like “Mouth of Ghosts” off of the band’s 2007 record Ire Works (arguably the band’s most experimental album, with it’s implementation of glitchy electronics, horn sections, and even occasional pop melodies) the loud-quiet dynamic here follows a similar approach of slowly building the intensity before a barn-burning climax.

Another aspect adding to the song’s heightened accessibility is the ever versatile Greg Puciato going the whole song with clean vocals, from his sultry crooning to his bombastic Patton-esque piping near the end. Fortunately for the casual listener, there’s no banshee shrieking here.

With this track, it has become harder to tell what direction this album is gonna take. Are we gonna get a barrage of brutal mathcore with occasional bouts of more melodic, nuanced material, or is it gonna be the other way around? Either way it goes, color me excited!


Dissociation comes out on October 14th on Party Smasher via Sumerian Records


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