The Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP) certainly have been enjoying the good life since releasing their last full-length, Calculating Infinity, back in 1998. The band was hand-picked by Mike Patton to tour alongside one of the bands they openly idolize, Mr. Bungle. A mutual respect between the two bands eventually led to DEP recording an EP, which contains Patton's musical vision, not just his vocal talents. But, if the band's original vocalist Dimitri Minakakis had never left to pursue other interests, it would be interesting to see what direction DEP would have headed in. Nevertheless, they found a more than suitable replacement in Greg Puciato and have recorded one of the most anticipated releases in metal/hardcore history, Miss Machine.
It wasn't that long ago that I saw the very first show that Puciato did as the front man of DEP. I was skeptical as to whether or not he was going to be able to fill the void that Minakakis had left. This isn't to say that Minakakis was the most impressive vocalist, but I equated him with the band. So, taking that into consideration, I had my doubts that Puciato would be capable of filling said void. Not even ten seconds into "Sugar Coated Sour," those doubts were answered, and answered well. More recently, I had those same doubts about his covering the Patton material, but he excelled there as well. So now we have the first recordings of Puciato as the vocalist, not "the new vocalist," and the material that he and only he can call his own.
"Panasonic Youth" sets things off in a typical DEP mannerism, filled with off kilter guitar riffs and swift drumming. There is a noticeable difference though; Puciato vocals are much deeper, featuring growls at times. This is a rather different approach than Minakakis took. "Sunshine the Werewolf" shows the band's direction on Irony is a Dead Scene was no accident. While many credited, or discredited, Patton for the toning down, the band expands on the experimentation that was and always has be a part of their repertoire. It's on "Highway Robbery" that my biggest fear about the new material started to reveal itself. We hear Puciato demonstrate his adoration for Patton's vocal stylings. Things aren't that obvious here, but as the album progresses you can't really ignore the resemblance.
The track "Phone Home" sounds quite similar to the work that Puciato did in the project Error. The track makes use of drum-sequences and snyths, giving a industrial, metal sound to it. And the way Puciato portrays his vocals even reminds me a bit of Trent Reznor's earlier, more angst-ridden material. While this is definitely a step in a new direction for the band, oddly enough it to turns out to be one of the better tracks on the album. "We Are the Storm" responds in classic DEP style, filled with more of the insane time-changes that helped garner them attention in the first place. Both this track and "Setting Fire to Sleeping Giant" features more of that Patton-esque style from Puciato, which seems to have its place on a good part of the album. In fact, the similarities are so striking at times, its hard to say Puciato has influence when it's clearly evident he's emulating Patton.
Remember that eagerness to experiment that I mentioned earlier? Well it rears its head again on "Unretrofied." Like "Phone Home," this track also makes use of drum-sequences and snyths for a large portion of the song. This isn't what makes this track so unique. Missing is the start-stop guitar insanity that has been a staple in so much of the band's music. Instead the track is made up of guitars that are barely noticeable slow-moving rock riffs. I suppose this is DEP's attempt at a ballad. It's nice to see bands try new things, but I never saw this one coming. Fortunately the albums closer, "The Perfect Design," is typical DEP and my heart can rest easy. That is until I evaluate the 40 minutes that encompass Miss Machine.
Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for Miss Machine is due to my dwindling interest in the genre of technical metal. Since the unleashing of Calculating Infinity there has been an infinite amount of copy-cat bands that have saturated the sound. This overwhelming influx of similar sounding bands has adversely affected my feelings towards the entire genre. While I can't directly blame DEP for this, unfortunately, it has indirectly affected my response towards their latest release.
6.5 / 10
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