Wednesday 25 January 2017

LIVE REVIEW: This Feels Like Never Ending: A farewell To Dillinger Escape Plan

By: Philip Weller

“Farewell, fair cruelty.”

William Shakespeare

“It's just kind of known in the music industry that a farewell tour means 'for now.’”

Nikki Sixx

The Dillinger Escape Plan are a violent, Molotov Cocktail of aggressively designed soundscapes. From the rhinoceros charge of hardcore to their chaotic and angular mathcore inhibitions, as strobe lights flash and flicker like a warzone in a thunderstorm in Manchester tonight, it is clear that they are leaving behind a lasting legacy. As of July 2017, The Dillinger Escape Plan’s indefinite hiatus is initialised, and one in which uncertainty hovers over it like a vulture circling its prey. With Greg Puciato moving into poppy, electronic territories with former Nine Inch Nails man Joshua Eustis – albeit ones shrouded in a dark ambience – and with Ben Weinman focusing upon his own label, Party Smasher Inc., nobody knows whether this staggeringly unique band will grace us with their presence again. Yet, tonight feels like anything but a funeral.
Bodies packed in tight, a sticky sense of anticipation clogging up the air; an intensity ready to burst. Tonight has the feel of a proper gig, tonight is going to be sweaty. Then, as the band burst, exploding like a hand grenade, into ‘Limerent Death’s’ opening grooves, which resemble the sound of metal scraping on concrete, it begins. Only the day before had Swedish tech metal giants Meshuggah laid waste to the city across town at The Ritz. That was catastrophically heavy, leaving you breathless, motionless, their perfectly timed lights show as mesmerising as the abundance of face distorting riffs. But here, while still being heavier than an elephant’s turd, their music has a different effect. As their lightshow does its upmost to blind you, you watch the band’s silhouettes throw themselves across the stage as if battling an itch that will not be scratched, the urge to do likewise surges inside you. This is heavy, but this is fun.

And their songs have so much character to boot. ‘Black Bubblegum’ is anthemic, it sounds fictionally massive and the whole room gets caught in its web. ‘When I Lost My Bet’ is inhumanly tight, with its off-beat, blitzing attack opening up the mosh pit as if it were the mouth of hell. ‘One Of Us Is The Killer’ is heart and gut wrenching in equal measure; haunted and beautiful, like a wolf dressed in Granma’s clothes, it is a pop single with deadly and sinister intentions.
Alongside earlier material, like the sheer musical obliteration of ‘Farewell, Mona Lisa’ – and one where Weinman really flaunts his technical guitar wizardry – ‘Sympton of Terminal Illness’, taken from their aptly titled final record ‘Dissociation’, represents their growth is beholden in all its glory. The latter builds on eerie broken guitar chords, infused with occasional thrust of metallic impotence and capped with a searing chorus. The heaviness and the insanity is still there, but the song writing is sharper, smarter and more dynamic. For all the decibel plundering however, there is so much personality which colours and brightens their songs. ‘Milk Lizard’ however, will always be the true party smasher.
Having seen Puciato in The Black Queen, a band where he can really explore the depth and quality of his singing abilities, to see him here in a more rabid setting is a delight. It is credence too, to a special talent.
Mouth Of Ghosts’ is one of the most incredibly surreal and hypnotising songs to witness in the flesh. That galloping beat, which waltzes with a gorgeous, emotionally distraught piano line brings a kaleidoscope of images to your head. From vast open plains to the red deserts of Cydonia, it is the kind of song which stirs the soul and heightens inner contemplation. It introduces an encore cut unfortunately short. Halfway through ‘Sunshine Werewolf’ they cut the music and raise the lights. Someone in the crowd is having a seizure. Puciato encourages the crowd to give the individual room and calls for medical attention. The atmosphere in the room changes, a real concern blankets us all. It dampens the spirit and indeed the power of the band’s farewell to a city that has supported them for a long time.  But it also accentuates the band’s humility. They sound like animals, play like animals, but have hearts that betray that visage: A heart that will be sorely missed when it stops beating this July.