VERSUS: Calculating Infinity vs. Jane Doe

VERSUS: Calculating Infinity vs. Jane Doe

Welcome to Versus. The series where we look at two albums in metal history, compare them, and see which one was the better record.

In this edition, we are hopping into the metalcore genre with two bands that some have cited as being some of the originators of the genre, as well as its subgenre of mathcore. One band, with a debut record that introduced the world to the chaotic, frantic and technical musicianship of their fusion of metalcore and progressive metal. The other, a record that some have claimed as one of the defining records of metalcore as well as being an influential record for countless bands like Cave In, Every Time I Die and Poison The Well. Let's get to the core (pun intended) of this matchup in this battle I'm calling "Metal To The Core"

In this corner, we have The Dillinger Escape Plan with their 1999 debut album Calculating Infinity. This was the band's only studio album with vocalist Dimitri Minakakis. He would leave the band on good terms in 2001. With his trademark vocal style in the vein of hardcore punk, mixed with the technicality and aggressiveness in the band's sound, cemented this release as the blueprint for mathcore. While also being a strong release as the band's unique variation of metalcore music. So what does this album of frantic, mathematical chaos bring to the fight? Let's find out.

The album opens with "Sugar Coated Sour". With an opening similar to a fusion of grindcore and hardcore punk, the song is just frantic and all over the place with the guitar start/stop moments over Minakakis' screams into intricate and technical guitar playing. The song is completely delivering almost "metal-jazz" at certain points, earning them the mathcore title. Listening to the song you can picture the chaos of this song live. Then comes a standout track and a live staple of the band with "43% Burnt". I love the opening dissonant like guitar sounds and such a heavy opening breakdown with guttural screams and then back to the manic pacing of the song. It is so aggressive in the playing and the energy is unmatched. There is such technical proficiency in the whole band to keep up with each other in the pacing, key and tempo changes and overall performance of the song. "Jim Fear" has another strong opening with the progressive like chaos and musicianship. Minakakis' vocals are just so intense and driving in the delivery.

After the short interlude "*#.." comes another standout track for the album with "Destro's Secret". Chris Pennie's blast beat drum opening along with guitarists Ben Weinman and Brian Benoit's opening guitar hits punch so strong in the opening. Vocals just sound like you are pinned down and Minakakis is just screaming right in your face for almost two minutes. The song has a jazz like atmosphere while Minakakis just screams his heart out through it before transferring back and forth from the main riff and back to the ambient jazz movement. On "The Running Board", although heavy, the opening starts to sound a little copy/paste with the same style of opening riff and drums. Guitars get really loud and driving at the quarter mark and include an emergency stop feel to an acoustic and clean guitar passage with building drums behind it. "Clip The Apex...Accept Instruction" has a nice, slowed down chuggy riff on the song. Showing that even when the band slows down, and isn't schizophrenic in its playing, works and can be heavy without being intricate.

The album's title track features a more alternative rock feel in the guitar and drum pattern, almost something off of a Smashing Pumpkins record. I love the shoegaze like atmosphere the guitars bring to the song. Drums are driving and punch through hard in the mix with the snare hitting strong. The heaviness picks up at the three quarters mark, getting a more chuggier breakdown like riff, before transforming into the trademark Dillinger Escape Plan sound. "Weekend Sex Change" is another great interlude off the album. Drums are all over the place in the unique and diverse playing with nice shoegaze-like ambient guitars behind it. The addition of horror like synths and sound clips behind it adds tension to the horror and the unease of the track. The album's closer "Variations on A Cocktail Dress" is a strong closer and wraps up the album to finally slow this album down to a full stop.

Their opponents are Converge with their fourth album, 2001's Jane Doe. This was the band's breakthrough record, putting their name as a band to check out in 2001. Cited by critics for the album's lyrics, dynamic performance and ferocity in the band's music, Jane Doe would put Converge on the map and would be a defining name in metalcore, along with the album's iconic imagery of "Jane Doe". An album based in relationship and emotional issues from their lead singer Jacob Bannon at the time of recording, the anguish and intensity, with the band's defining sound, created a record that some have claimed to be THE defining metalcore record. Let's take a listen to this record and see what the band delivers with this so called "metalcore masterpiece".

The opening track "Concubine" starts with aggressive and tight guitar riffs before the blood curdling scream of Bannon breaks the door down and the song goes full speed. Almost in the vein of grindcore in its sound, production and performance, the song starts to show some trademark metalcore sound on the guitars at the three quarters mark, before returning to the all over the place start/stop ending. "Fault and Fracture" starts with an aggressive and furious opening riff. The verse section contains mini-guitar solo sweeps and hammer ons throughout with the song going into a heavy short breakdown section. The intensity in the vocals is just so unmatched, almost like he's screaming until he can't anymore. I also love the building drums behind it, giving the song a hardcore feel to the song at the halfway mark. With its chaotic ending, this song is one of my favorite tracks off the album. On "Distance and Meaning", I love the uptempo drumming of Ben Koller over an almost groove like opening riff. Drums are driving and prominent on the song amidst the start/stop guitar hits. Bannon is more restrained in the verse section until the chorus, then he kicks into high gear vocally, returning to his glass shattering high screams.

With "Hell To Pay" the song begins with a somber, yet anxiety-sounding opening guitar section, before the bass and drums bring a gritty, groove-like feel to the song. With vocal effects of Bannon coming in and out of the song, and the guitars drenched in effects and unease, the song almost sonically creates a weird and uneasy feeling before the fever pitch breaks on the chorus. Showing the band can be aggressive and dark without even going full speed. "Homewrecker" goes right for the jugular in its intensity and fast pace opening. The riff is such a stank-face inducing feel to it and the energy of the song is definitely a jump in the pit kind of song. Bannon's vocals are almost unintelligble and just aggressive, banshee like screaming of anguish and pure pissed off energy. The same can be said for the following track "The Broken Vow". The band's playing becomes more intricate on the song. With drums hitting and in-the-pocket, along with the building and descending guitars on the verse section, the band shines on the track with Bannon's clean singing highlighted with his screaming behind his clean vocals.

"Bitter and Then Some" is a great song and you really hear the metalcore sound on this track during the verse section. The chugging, yet syncopated riffs throughout the pain-inducing screaming of Bannon is just a pure headbanger of a track. The riff is heavy throughout over its short runtime. "Heaver in Her Arms" showcases another metalcore-staple in the opening riff into a nice booming bass groove before back to the main riff. Though metalcore in sound, the song almost has a hardcore punk sound to its guitar and drum section in certain sections, showing the band's original hardcore punk roots. "Phoenix in Flight" and "Phoenix in Flames" create an epic one-two punch in its build on the first track, creating a very atmospheric feel in the delivery with Bannon performing clean vocals throughout, into the latter where he just turns on a dime into pure screaming over matching drum chaos. The album's title track and closer is an eleven minute sonic undertaking. Converge slows down, almost to a sludge metal like sound, as Bannon gutturally screams his heart out as the song's slow, moody feel adds a sorrowful feel to the vocals. The song's overall feeling and performance is so intense, driving and emotional, you'll be exhausted when the final second hits.

After listening to both of these metalcore classics, which one do I declare the winner? For me, Converge's Jane Doe is the winner. With this record, the band tries to do more things with this album. From the sludge metal elements of the title track, the hardcore punk feel of "Heaven in Her Arms" to the grindcore feel of the opening track. Plus, I can hear the metalcore influence on this record, and can understand how inspirational and influential this record can be from the lyrics and the music the band delivers on this album. With Calculating Infinity, I felt after awhile a lot of the songs had that copy/paste intro or feel to it. Almost a feeling of one single song, but broken into separate individual tracks. Similar to Meshuggah and their Catch 33 album. I still like both bands and both bands have great records worth checking out if you like these records I've featured today in this article. For me, Converge is the winner.

The Dillinger Escape Plan would recover from losing vocalist Dimitri Minakakis. The band would be joined briefly by the legendary Mike Patton for one EP, 2002's Irony is A Dead Scene. During the making and recording of that EP, the band would have Greg Puciato officially join the band and play live with the band. He would make his studio debut on the band's second record Miss Machine. Breaking the band into the mainstream. Along with the band's intense live performances and impressive musical output, the band would release four more records before breaking up after the touring cycle of their 2016 album Dissociation.

After breaking up, Puciato began a solo career. With his 2020 debut record Child Soldier: Creator of God, the music would dive further into the avante-garde. With moments of experimental music, along with other genres of metal as well as electronic music and grunge. He followed it up with his most recent record, 2022's Mirrorcell.

Converge would follow up this record with 2004's You Fail Me. It was the band's first album to chart commercially and received glowing reviews from fans and critics. Their most recent record, 2017's The Dusk in Us, was received with critical acclaim and made many "Best of 2017" lists before the band took a brief hiatus to focus on other projects.

In 2021, the band would collaborate with singer/songwriter Chelsea Wolfe and release the album Bloodmoon: I. With its unique mix of multiple genres, and a great vocal mixture of Bannon and Wolfe. The album received critical praise from critics and fans. It was announced in November 2023 from Bannon that they are planning a follow up record in the future. No confirmed release date or title has been announced as of the time of this article.

Do you agree with my decision? Who do you think should have won? Cast your vote on the poll below, leave your comments on our social media, and your suggestions who you think should step in the ring next. I’m Justin, your friendly neighborhood metalhead, for This Day in Metal and this has been Versus.

VS: Calculating Infinity vs. Jane Doe - Online Poll -
What’s your opinion? Vote now: Calculating Infinity, Jane Doe…

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