THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN - Ire Works (Relapse Records)

I was there, man. Reading 2002. Well, I'd actually been watching Death Cab For Cutie play to no more than 200 people as they opened the NME stage that day, and then literally ran to see how DEP on the Main Stage at Sunday lunchtime would be received. I was met with a blistering rendition of 43% Burnt as singer Greg Puciato hurled a bag of his own shit into the audience, which was hurled back at him. So then he smeared the shit over his lovely new white t-shirt. I was both horrified and highly amused. Death Cab had been so nice and polite as well...

It's the new DEP album! Here's my background on them: I'm going to make as massive generalisation here, and say that the majority of people that like DEP's favourite stuff is from Calculating Infinity. Hearing that as a wide-eared 19 year-old was awesome. An interesting, inventive metalcore band?! Their stuff stuck more in my head than contemporaries such as Cave-In and Converge and I still don't know how the hell in Christ's name they actually write their songs.

So they did the EP with Mike Patton which was decent enough and then came out with Miss Machine, of which most reviews and comment seemed to focus on the introduction of electronica. For me the electronica sounded a little clumsy in places but had potential, and the real exciting introduction was the fact that they had written songs with proper rock riffs and choruses! This was a great development and complimented the trademark mathy chaos very well indeed.

Anyway... what does the new album bring to the table? Well, the jazz-ish rhythms and riffs remain in place and sound like no other band. I don't understand how anyone could criticise them for continuing to do the chaotic stuff because it still, eight years after I first heard the band, sounds so impressive. Opener Fix Your Face is the obvious example of this (and features Calculating Infinity vocalist Dimitri Minakakis on backing vocals too).

But there are 2 other excellent elements of Ire Works that I like. One is the introduction of an almost Jesus Lizard-esque rock'n'roll feel to some of the songs. Listen to the intro of Milk Lizard (Lizard in the title, eh? Coincidence? Hmmm!), it's total rock'n'roll fun. There are other little riffs that pop up all through the album too and it's good to hear them engage the listener in such a way.

The other enjoyable thing about the album is the much, much improved electronica element. I really didn't enjoy stuff like Phone Home from Miss Machine, it sounded like pseudo-Nine Inch Nails guff and was a waste of time. But something like Sick on Sunday is great, melding Squarepusher-esque dynamics into the band's sound rather than opposing it and standing out like a sore thumb. And the glitchy bits of When Acting as a Wave sound fucking brilliant. More please!

So, if you like the Dillinger Escape Plan trademark sound, you will enjoy this album. They've sorted the electronic stuff out, the riffs are still ridiculous, they have proper songs now and properly rock them out and it's a huge rollercoaster of a listen. However, if you're not a fan, this isn't going to change your mind. Good shit!