Dillinger Escape Plan are back with the newly released “One Of Us Is The Killer”, out now via Sumerian Records. They’re a band that continually evolve, and to many, their last outing “Option Paralysis” was about as good as it gets; daring, frantic, and passionate. Well, I’ve listened to the new album about 4 times through already and, well, this is the opposite of “phoning it in”. If you peel back the layers of this band, who at first seem like troublemakers, angry for the sake of it…you find that they want to incite inspiration rather than misguided anger. They want to light a fire, and, speaking for myself at least, it works. DEP’s music has gotten me through many hard times in the past. There’s something in their reckless abandon and relentless approach that leaves no emotional stone unturned; if you can handle the ruthless self-inquiry, you’ll come out the other end a little wiser for it.
“Prancer” is vintage Dillinger aged to perfection; their “capture the Queen” revolutionary musical approach is in full effect here. Punk rock, hardcore, and math metal all work together to create a powder keg of attitude and energy. “When I Lost My Bet” staggers it’s way to hardcore jazz masterpiece territory; vocally, telling someone off becomes art here, and a perfect metaphor for those chasing fame. “Stick around, you never know whose ego you can stroke a rung to climb a pill a line a mask to hide your face.” This could be one of DEP’s best all time tracks, although admittedly that’s a difficult call.
“One Of Us Is The Killer” introduces the falsetto/Faith No More-inspired side of Dillinger, and it’s welcomed after the pure brutality of the previous two tracks. Greg Puciato’s voice keeps getting better, and the pop sensibility of this track works well. It’s always nice to hear a metal band who utilize Portishead’s influence well. Downtempo and deeply emotive, this is a definite single, and has the potential to reach further than past tracks for the band in the mainstream.
“Hero of the Soviet Union” reminds the listener that they are participating in a surprise attack, and attention is absolutely necessary. What can you say? It’s pure insanity, and it’s massive. But wait for it…one of the strangely zen moments of the CD appears in the closer of this song.
“You smell like shit, not the truth
full of device, not devotion
conscience came right up to you
and then you threw it back
you are the scum of the earth
you are the scum of the ocean
to you it’s above as below
you smear your filth across the world”
Pay attention to the mournful backup harmonies, and there is a beauty in this call out. Call out the enemy, and you’re finished with it. This is a highlight of the album, and hard to top.
“Nothing’s Funny” begins with a punishing riff that locks into a groove metal verse. Heavy but beautiful throughout, and a perfect mix of Dillinger’s melodic and harsh sensibilities. Think Soundgarden at their meanest. “Understanding Decay” progresses further, with it’s stop/start jagged rhythm pulsing along. There are still many surprises up DEP’s sleeves, including the incantation/chant at the end.
“Paranoia Shields” starts with Marilyn Manson-esque vocals, and it’s another melodic heavy offering along the same lines of “Nothing’s Funny”. To call is accessible is a strange term to use, but it really is. Of course, they manage to make accessible incredibly interesting.
“CH 375 268 277 ARS”, to me, sounds like Dillinger Escape Plan’s answer to Nine Inch Nails’ “Just Like You Imagined”. It’s an instrumental, and it’s inspiring. By the time it unleashes, it’s overwhelming. Put it on your workout mix. Of course, after two minutes of instrumental music, Puciato has to come back strong, and he does. “Magic That I Held You Prisoner” is full on punishing; another solid offering.
“Crossburner” gives us the slow heavy that Dillinger excels at just as much as their spastic math punk. With basslines taking cues from “Antichrist Superstar” era Manson, this is industrial and heavy metal meets prog and trip hop. The track blazes out in a path of glory with the lines “I’m sorry we’re so far away”.
“The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons” gives a final taste of the versatility on the album, from quiet, creepy lounge jazz to full on metal and hardcore. Nothing short of perfect.
Overall, Dillinger Escape Plan have challenged and invigorated us once again. “One Of Us Is The Killer” is right up there with DEP’s best work, and it’s certainly bound to be among 2013’s best CD releases, alongside David Bowie’s “The Next Day” and Janelle Monae”s “The Electric Lady” (my advance prediction). Welcome back, Dillinger, and thanks for the inspiration.