The mid-’90s was a superb era for music, but not every band was meant to be. After some early success, members of the hardcore punk band Arcane were feeling limited by their genre and needed a change. Moving in a more metal direction seemed less restrictive and so the American metalcore band Dillinger Escape Plan was formed. Their first album as DEP, Calculating Infinity, was released in 1999 and hailed by critics. Moreover, the album sold over a hundred thousand copies and achieved a cult following fairly quickly. After two decades and numerous genre-bending albums together, here are the top ten best Dillinger Escape Plan songs of all time.
10. Happiness Is a Smile
Fans of Dillinger Escape plan were thrilled when they announced a new song for the 2014 tour. There were, however, a couple of caveats. First, the song, Happiness Is A Smile was only released on seven-inch vinyl and cassette at the shows. Second, the tour was only hitting North America. May fans were disappointed and thought they’d never hear the song. Luckily, they made a music video so everyone can share the experience.
9. When I Lost My Bet
There are many great songs about gambling, and When I Lost My Bet sounds like the title of one of them, but it’s not. AT least not literally. This song is more about the philosophical kind of losing. Greg Puciato and Ben Weinman worked on this one together. According to a Songfacts interview, “That song is actually a reference to living in LA and seeing people go from human beings to opportunists… That song was a response to seeing so much opportunism all the time.”
8. Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants
The title of Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants is pretty self-explanatory. This is a song all about doing what you know you shouldn’t just because you can because it entertains you or might get you something you want, like a fire in this instance. Of course, pursuing danger rarely turns out how you’d hope and can get you killed. With references to taking candy from strangers, this song is about how much trouble you can get in seeking fame and trying to come up in the world through foolish risks.
7. The Mullet Burden
The Mullet Burden is another very clear song. The title speaks to being born poor, as that haircut is most often associated with low-class people. Meanwhile, the lyrics talk about how the subject is worthless and weak. If anyone missed it, the video of this wild, loud, mosh-worthy song deconstructs it within seconds. Images of a trailer park and grainy images of guys in cowboy hats and a train viewed from near the tracks tell you what you need to know about this story. It also poignantly points out our own media bias with simple elegance and minimal imagery.
6. 43% Burnt
Lyrically, 43% burnt is crude and disturbing, but that is very much by design. This is a song about self-loathing and desire. Self-pity wars with the urge to despoil, feeding into an endless loop of self-deprecating, self-harming instant fulfillment seeking pointlessness. This song could just as easily be called by a less clever and thoughtful name. Yet at just 43% burnt, it also implies a vague hope since the subject is still more than halfway alright.
5. Panasonic Youth
Fighting against capitalism is very true to the punk roots of Dillinger Escape Plan. Often hailed as one of the band’s most intense songs, this is all about how much big business doesn’t care for people. We are all disposable in the end, and only the profits go on. The parable anger in this song is delightful in its own way. Songmeanings notes that it could be about abortion, which is certainly as relevant now as it ever was.
The literal meaning of Unretrofied is ‘modernized. With lyrics about wasted time and highlighting the juxtaposition of the ancient or mythical with the modern, it’s all about the world we live in now. Anger at the loss of the past and forced conformity resonate with fans and much of the modern world audience. We lose our selves in the need or the requirement to fit into current society.
3. Farewell Mona Lisa
Is Farewell Mona Lisa about a woman? Perhaps it’s about losing your artistic integrity to survive as an artist. Of course, it could simply be about sensory overload, which more people report experiencing every year. Whatever the root, one of the wonderful things about music is that you can filter it through your own perception and enjoy it regardless.
2. Milk Lizard
Ire Works, the album containing Milk Lizard, was critically acclaimed, and with good reason. This song was featured on an episode of CSI: NY called Playing With Matches in February of 2008. For many soon-to-be fans, it was their first introduction to the spectacular band. You can hear the influences of great metal bands like Carcass and Death Angel in Milk Lizard, and we think it’s underrated despite the notoriety it gained.
1. One Of Us Is The Killer
According to LouderSound, frontman Greg Puciato named this the number one most Important Dillinger Escape Plan song, and we couldn’t agree more. Written by Weinman and Puciato, it captures the spirit of the band’s music and their versatility while showing off each instrument individually and the vocalist’s capabilities. One Of Us Is The Killer is a brilliant song about destructive co-dependence.
Known for their groundbreaking music, Dillinger Escape Plan split up at the end of their tour in 2017. However, the band members have gone on to play more music in bands such as Killer Be Killed. The group made news recently when Hurricane Ida hit former founding member Ben Weinman’s Animal Sanctuary, and back in June when Greg Puciato, the former vocalist for DEP, hit the studio with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell for Greg’s next solo album. Regardless of why they get the headline, we’re always happy to see Dillinger Escape Plan in the news because it reminds us to go back and listen to their astounding music.