The Vinyl Verdict: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Dissociation Transparent
The Dillinger Escape Plan have been challenging my musical boundaries since I heard “43% Burnt” for the first time back in 2000. As someone who was just beginning his descent into the realm of more extreme metal, the song terrified me upon first listen. During a time when Korn, Disturbed, and Limp Bizkit were dominating radio waves and Ozzfest lineups by chugging their familiar nu-metal riffs, DEP came across as a revolution. They knocked me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to something that was truly aggressive, not just trying to be. As time went on I cemented my tastes in the zenith, parading among the peaks of extreme metal. It got to the point where I demanded instrumentation that matched the level of anger the vocals attempted to capture, and not just because someone turned up the distortion. DEP helped to hone my love for avant-garde songs that push the envelope. Each concurrent release offered up a new avenue to explore, a new take on those familiar peaks — never quite as vicious as their debut, but still unabashedly its own.
Dissociation continues that trend. Musically it’s one of DEP’s most incredible albums, sprinkling on both new and old to formulate a perfect note upon which to end their amazing career. The album is available on Amazon and DEP’s MerchConnection site for $29.99 in gatefold packaging and is a 2xLP 150g set printed on transparent wax. There is also a standard black release available. The transparent vinyl is beautiful and contains the band’s logo etched into it — a nice touch that helps dispel some of the qualms I have with other elements of the presentation.
The album artwork is mesmerizing and features photographs taken by guitarist Ben Weinman. Using glass radio tubes, Ben has managed to capture the essence of DEP right on the cover: the beauty of destructive dissonance as it’s pushed to the breaking point. The back features more of the aforementioned glass tubes, in three distinct piles, cropped and lined up to represent the familiar bars of the Party Smasher and DEP logos.
Opening the gatefold reveals the heads of the broken radio tubes as they lay on the ground, evoking a similar aesthetic to the industrial cylindrical approach on the cover of Calculating Infinity. Couple that with the fact that the background shades of blue are complimentary to the orange that appeared on that album and I can’t help but wonder if the similarities are intentional — a final nod to their roots before diffusing. I’m probably reading way too deeply into this, but if it was deliberate you can consider my mind blown.
Dissociation’s track list is as follows:
“Symptoms of Terminal Illness”
“Wanting Not so Much to as To”
“Low Feels Blvd”
“Apologies Not Included”
“Nothing to Forget”
Playing the album was a flawless experience. No pops, no interruptions. It was smooth from start to finish. The sound quality was also stellar thanks to the audio-mastery, which was done specifically for vinyl. The album was mastered using 88.2kHz 24-bit .wav files.
Dynamic range for Dissociation is average, clocking in at 10. The minimum was a 9, while the max was a 13. Not bad, especially considering their last two releases have clocked in around 5 according to the Dynamic Range Database.
The vinyl release isn’t without its flaws, though; it really could’ve benefitted from some higher quality packaging and materials. The final product just doesn’t feel durable and the thin cardboard making up its cover arrived damaged. I don’t think it had to do with poor handling because there’s no damage to the box it was sent in. Instead, it appears that the damage was caused by the vinyl inside moving and creating perforations along the spine of the cover, a problem I haven’t come across in any other new releases I’ve had sent my way.
A trend I’ve noticed from other distributors has been to create cardboard sleeves to protect the wax as well, while the release for Dissociation simply has them housed in thin glossy paper. The cover damage was something I could overlook, but the sleeves were almost completely torn on each side. Paper doesn’t offer much protection and is probably why the wax did so much damage to the cover. Considering the fact that the cover is already thin as it is, the final product feels rather cheap from a packaging perspective, which is a shame because I really do love the rest of the album’s presentation. I understand that most of what Dillinger does is self-funded, but it would have been nice to see them spring for some more durable options for their final release.
Dissociation is probably one of the most bittersweet releases I’ll ever have a chance to review because of the sentimentality I have attached to this band and its legacy; if this is truly going to be DEP’s last album, then damn, they went out with a bang musically. If you’re a huge fan or audiophile then this might be a worthy pickup because of the wonderful sound quality of the master, but you might want to consider the flimsy packaging before you pull the trigger, as it may not be the most durable long-term choice.