Is A Dead Scene
Dillinger Escape Plan with Mike Patton
EP ends up suffering from the same kind of inevitable crappiness
that is usually reserved for aged super-group assemblies. Sort of
like when Slash, Jimmy Page and Keith Richards play some limp rock
‘n’ roll hall of fame benefit; it’s theoretically
a good idea given the talent involved, but the results are usually
Dillinger Escape Plan is best known for their all-around awesome
1999 album Calculating Infinity, which showcased their brutal distorted
guitar mayhem and almost inaccessible use of crazy time signatures.
Mike Patton is famous as the frontman for such huge national acts
as Mr. Bungle and Faith No More, and more recently known for his
forays into John Zorn-inspired noise with the Fantomas and Tomahawk.
Sounds like a good match, right? This album ends up sounding like
the cheesier elements of Faith No More mixed with a disturbingly
nu-metal sounding DEP (an upsetting trend that too many hardcore
bands are displaying these days).
Intermittent bursts of annoying, Static-X style, high-pitched shrieks,
badly done attempts at grooves (which any good DEP effort avoids
at all costs) and ballad–sounding guitar twang overshadow
most of the other redeeming qualities of this EP. The lyrics are
pretty idiotic to boot, with such deep lines as, “X’s
and O’s/ Hollywood Squares/ X’s and O’s Irony
is a dead scene/ Bloody tic-tac-toe” on “Hollywood Squares,”
alternating with obscure free associations such as “Your lover,
the others/ The leeches, the serpents and the suckers” on
Only about three minutes over the course of this album deliver the
kind of intensity you know such crazy musicians are capable of.
The only thing that saves this from being a total waste is the cover
of Aphex Twin’s “Come To Daddy” and the first
two minutes of the first song.
Maybe, hopefully, as the title suggests, it’s just a big joke,
albeit not a very funny one. Ultimately this album seems like it
was thrown together without much consideration for the actual music,
hoping that the name would sell it. If this were the latest System
of a Down record, you would say they had vastly improved, but coming
from DEP and Mike Patton, it’s an insult.
There is a
strange, mythic quality to the untimely death of a great musician.
To some extent, it’s not at all surprising when someone like
Jimi Hendrix or Kurt Cobain kicks the bucket; great art goes hand-in-hand
with coke, empty whisky bottles and a tortured soul. It’s
difficult to tell if these things haunted the short life of singer/songwriter
Jeff Buckley, for his music boasted all the qualities of potential
music genius, but his death was far more disturbing due to its accidental
nature. On May 29, 1997, Buckley drowned in the Mississippi River
while going for a late night swim. What he left behind is a small
collection of intense compositions, displaying his tremulous, ethereal
Grace, the first and last album Buckley released before his death
earned a great deal of acclaim in the United States and abroad.
Grace epitomizes the sheer intensity of Buckley’s vocals and
music. But it is his lyrics that set a new standard for the singer/songerwriter
genre. These songs explore lost love, faith and social ills…not
so much for the faint of heart. “Last Goodbye” is one
of the few songs in a major key, but is probably the most heart-wrenching.
Lamenting a useless affair, Buckley sings, “This is our last
embrace, must I dream and always see your face/ Why can’t
we overcome this wall, baby/ Maybe it’s just because I didn’t
know you at all.” Love ended, love wasted on someone perpetually
out of reach. Can’t think of anything worse.
“So Real” is another ballad that explores the beginning
of relationships. You know, the first encounter followed by that
deep-seated paranoia that consumes you when you are sure they could
never feel the same way. This song is as consuming as the feeling
of uncertain love, but now, the lyrics reflect Buckley’s macabre
death, “And I couldn’t awake from the nightmare/ That
sucked me in and pulled me under/ Pulled me under/ Oh...That was
“Lover, You Should of Come Over” brings you to those
lonely nights, when all you want is the one you want: “Tonight
you’re on my mind so (you’ll never know)/ I’m
broken down and hungry for your love/ With no way to feed it/ Where
are you tonight?” The subtle, sexual tension that initiates
this song builds continually as Buckley contemplates the fallibility
of young love and the profound loneliness that accompanies it. “Too
young to hold on and too old to just break free and run/ Sometimes
a man gets carried away/ When he feels like he should be having
his fun/ And much too blind to see the damage he’s done/ Sometimes
a man must awake to find that, really/ He has no one...”
Many singers cover songs, but few do them as well as Buckley. “Hallelujah,”
originally by Leonard Cohen, again explores the more destructive
side of relationships, but its Christian allusions lead the listener
to speculate the intrinsic ties between faith and love. “Hallelujah’s”
success is also measured in how well it displays Buckley’s
otherworldly voice. Listening to him sing, “Well, maybe there’s
a God above/ But all I’ve ever learned from love was how to
shoot somebody who outdrew ya/ It’s not a cry that you hear
at night/ It’s not somebody who’s seen the light/ It’s
cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah…” brings you
to another place completely.
Perhaps Buckley’s fame would not have been so great if not
for his death; his drowning adds to the mysterious quality of his
voice and his music. Regardless, his talent is unmistakably real.
Grace is nothing short of a masterpiece.