Oftentimes, solo albums offer an anemic version of a band’s usual output. It makes sense—after all, bands are generally a fusion of all their members’ influences mixed with a healthy dose of whatever intangible, ineffable chemistry exists between them, something that an individual member can’t replicate on their own. Mirrorcell is not that kind of solo album, but then The Dillinger Escape Plan were never the kind of band whose intensely loud and visceral explosions of technical metal- and mathcore could ever really be separated into individual components. The sum was always louder than the parts.
Since the band called it a day in 2017, frontman Greg Puciato—a veritable ball of energy and bulging biceps who once defecated into a bag onstage at Reading Festival and then threw his feces into the crowd as a commentary on the other bands playing that day—has busied himself with other projects. There’s synthwave supergroup The Black Queen and alt-metal supergroup Killer Be Killed, both of which started life before Dillinger called it a day. Puciato’s solo output, however, is a purely post-Dillinger project, though it takes more cues from those two acts than anything he ever made with that band.
Mirrorcell is his second record, following on from 2020’s Child Soldier: Creator of God. It begins with a deafening, squalling convulsion of noise in the form of instrumental intro “In This Hell You Find Yourself” before the decidedly ’90s lurch of “Reality Spiral.” Even if you didn’t know that Puciato had recently collaborated with Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell, this track would be something of a giveaway. Thankfully the seven songs that follow don’t stick to that mold. Not because it’s bad, per se, but because it just feels like grunge-by-numbers, something that’s been done many times before—and, truthfully, done better.
But Puciato is nothing if not unpredictable, and after the dark, death-obsessed “No More Lives to Go”—which infuses a more metal attitude into the proceedings—he starts to demonstrate his versatility. “Never Wanted That” is a simmering black spell of misery that’s nuanced and sinister in equal measure; “Lowered” is majestic dark pop that features Code Orange’s Reba Meyers, and which reaches for anthemic heights The Killers would be proud of; “We” is a stark, vulnerable expression of jaded love that owes much to Depeche Mode.
Penultimate track “Rainbows Underground” dives deep into psychedelic metal territory before the epic nine minutes of “All Waves to Nothing” oscillates between every mood and genre heard on the previous seven tracks. Like the album as a whole, it’s an exhilarating ride with some moments of magic, but one that never quite reaches the great, inimitable, original, and core-shaking heights that Dillinger Escape Plan offered. Still, it’s certainly not watered down.