During a live show in 2005, a certain black-clad vocalist terrorized the Times Square Virgin Megastore by sprinting straight over his band’s tightly packed audience. The resulting chaos, immortalized in an unforgettable viral video, immediately cemented The Dillinger Escape Plan’s reputation as a truly incendiary live act. On record, DEP’s frontman Greg Puciato was equally intense, despite being ultimately constrained by the creative compromises required when collaborating with other people.
Fifteen years after the Virgin Megastore incident, and three years on from The Dillinger Escape Plan’s dissolution, word continues to spread about the mathcore titans’ legacy. Experiencing DEP is an unforgettable rite of passage for fans of heavy music – and although the band were best known for all kinds of chaos, their songwriting skills are often overlooked. Thanks to earworms like “Milk Lizard,” “Black Bubblegum,” and “One of Us Is the Killer,” The Dillinger Escape Plan have long acted as a gateway band whose discography quickly throws listeners into some of the most extreme tracks ever recorded.
Of course, every great song needs to be delivered by an equally great vocalist in order to have the impact it deserves. We flee from terrible tribute bands and tone-deaf buskers because they lack the musicianship required to turn melodies and lyrics into something more than music. Acting as the centerpiece of one of history’s most savage bands, Greg Puciato has repeatedly proven himself to be one of the best rock and metal vocalists of all time.
Rather than running from the scene of a Dillinger Escape Plan show, or burning their headphones in disgust after listening to Miss Machine, many listeners have chosen to follow Greg Puciato through a long, meandering creative journey. Beyond face-melting mathcore, Puciato has also explored dark and frosty electronica in The Black Queen, proggy groove metal as part of the supergroup Killer Be Killed, and collaborations with everyone from Devin Townsend to Architects, Suicide Silence, Lamb of God, and Every Time I Die. Greg Puciato’s own signature style is underpinned by a smorgasbord of influences, encompassing everything from punk, metal, and hardcore to R&B, hip-hop, film scores, and video game music – and Child Soldier: Creator of God draws on all of the above across its 65-minute running time.
Given that Greg Puciato’s past antics include fire breathing, balcony diving, and smearing himself in his own excrement during a British festival appearance, hearing this album open with gentle, lilting acoustic guitar is somewhat unexpected. Even at this point in his career, Greg Puciato is determined to remain unpredictable and mercurial, and those characteristics remain consistent throughout Child Soldier: Creator of God. This is not easy listening, even if you’re a fan of Puciato’s back catalog.
Beyond the aforementioned acoustic opener “Heaven of Stone” (which wouldn’t sound out of place on a Foo Fighters or Incubus record), Greg Puciato promptly swerves into a sonic labyrinth filled with confrontational surprises. There are nods to Puciato’s earlier projects (The Black Queen on “Creator of God,” The Dillinger Escape Plan’s classic “43% Burnt” during “Fire for Water,” lyrics from DEP’s “Prancer” on “Evacuation”), but these are welcome Easter eggs that pop up from a churning melting pot of ideas, experiments, and fully-formed songs. This is a record you could justifiably diagnose with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a solo album that offers an authentic view into Greg Puciato’s inner soundscape, not a neat and sterilized series of songs written for someone else’s approval.
No matter which side of Greg Puciato you prefer, you’ll find plenty of compatible material on Child Soldier: Creator of God – and if you’re keen to hear The Dillinger Escape Plan’s vocalist pitching curveballs in your direction, you’ll be in luck too. Since this record’s release has already been disrupted by a disrespectful leaker, forcing Puciato to roll with the punches, no further spoilers should be given here. You can already listen to the official release, brought forward with Greg Puciato’s blessing, through the audio player below. To prepare yourself in advance, try spinning round and round until you get dizzy and fall over before pressing Play.