Michael Patton needs to go directly to metal jail. He should not pass go. And he should not collect anything for contributing to "Irony Is a Dead Scene." Up to this point, the stunning New Jersey quintet Dillinger Escape Plan hasn't faltered. But this new EP, on which Dillinger provides the music and Patton his (ahem) vocals, is a giant stumble.
Dillinger's unclassifiable barrage of two guitars, drum, bass and voice blew the synapses out of underground metalheads, heavy-rock hounds and even some free-jazz snoots when it broke in 1998. Since then, it has continuously impressed with its acrobatic start/stops, compositions so sharp they cut Kevlar and inventive interplay of vocals and drums.
Yet so little of Dillinger feels present on "Irony." The instrumentation is impressively tight, and the music characteristically complex, yet Dillinger's imaginative intensity sounds smoothed over -- and you have to think that Patton did the rubbing. His quasi-conceptual highbrow/lowbrow touch is everywhere -- the arch title, a song called "When Good Dogs Do Bad Things," and the vocal pyrotechnics, the latter the most disappointing.
Patton disregards Dillinger's panache with making vocals an integral element of its sound in favor of blas? heavy-metal opera. Dillinger is capable of so much more than it displays here. As for Patton, he should hope the track record of his Ipecac label counts as good behavior; otherwise, he's serving life without parole along with Jason Bonham, Bruce Dickinson and Ronnie James Dio.
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