Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton
Irony Is a Dead Scene EP
Sometime last year, omnipresent vocalist and Ipecac label owner Mike Patton teamed up with one of hard rock's current hottest commodities, the Dillinger Escape Plan (DEP), to record a four-song EP while the band was between singers. But the significance of this pairing goes beyond simple collaboration. It is historical. Here's why:
Love him or leave him, Patton's influence on underground metal and hardcore, particularly through Faith No More, is undeniable. His influence on mainstream rap-rock is similarly undisputed, serving as the template for vocalists like Korn's Jonathan Davis. There's a list of side-projects and guest appearances too long to mention, boasting an acclaimed cast of cohorts: John Zorn, Dan the Automator, Dave Lombardo (Slayer), Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard), and Melt-Banana, among others. And at the foundation of the legend, there's simply the mad genius of Mike Patton, a.k.a. "Hardcore Pavarotti", with his immense vocal range and penchant for perplexing artistic expression. He may be too much to handle sometimes, but it wouldn't be an exaggeration to call the man an icon.
And then there's the Dillinger Escape Plan: With only one release under their belts (the three-song EP Under the Running Board) at the time, this band laid down perhaps the seminal recording for the now flourishing math-metal genre, blending elements of math-rock, metal, and hardcore with a tip of the hat to modern jazz. Highly technical and intelligent, but still tenacious and punishing, 1999's Calculating Infinity set a high-bar for the genre, and garnered loads of praise for the New Jersey upstarts.
In 2001, while searching for a new vocalist to replace the departed Dmitri Minakakis (who took lead vocals on Calculating Infinity), DEP butted heads with Patton to produce this four-track EP. For a meeting of the minds of this caliber, you might assume there had to be some give and take, but here, the two parties complement each other perfectly by blending their two distinguished sounds into one primal force: DEP's cerebral approach interlocks with Patton's more visceral leanings, making for a seamless, happy medium of intense technical proficiency and quirky, creative flourishes. This one is on par with DEP's finest, yet it's more accessible-- and more importantly, it surpasses everything Patton's done since Faith No More's Angel Dust.
Patton himself hasn't changed. The cartoon-baritone hyper-rap on "Hollywood Squares"-- in addition to the Snarf melody-- tells you the eccentric Patton of old hasn't gone anywhere. Similar spastic rap stylings on "Pig Latin" further reinforce the point. And just in case you still aren't convinced, he sports a multi-faceted, all-natural Richard D. James impression on the band's rendition of "Come to Daddy". Yet, unlike most of Patton's other recent projects, including Tomahawk and Fantômas, DEP refuse to reflect the strained caricature of his vocals in their music. There is no "goof" in hardcore punk, and the band hasn't compromised-- these are, after all, the guys who shat on stage during a performance at the August 2002 Reading Festival.
The band's calculated proficiency stands in stark contrast to Patton's right-brained outlandishness; while Patton is busy stammering about "your mother, your father," and God-knows-what else on "Pig Latin," DEP are furnishing him with flawless funk-metal. The multi-faceted ass kicking of "Hollywood Squares" relies on the band's patented, eruptive math-metal passages to break up a modicum of Patton weirdness. And even "Come to Daddy", which may sound like a bad idea in theory, comes off with supreme ferocity: Chris Pennie's drums simply decimate iBooks.
The complete package is neither arcane nor peculiar. Patton and DEP have managed to find a midpoint between two styles that speaks to both sides of the brain. The only unfortunate thing is that we'll likely never again witness the two in action together; last year, Dillinger hired vocalist Greg Puciato who, despite handling his growling duties admirably, doesn't near possess Patton's vocal range or ambition. So it's just as Patton himself once mused: "You want it all but you can't have it." Four songs will have to suffice.
-Brad Haywood, December 3rd, 2002
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