[14th May 2013]
[Sumerian Records/Party Smasher Inc.]
02. When I Lost My Bet
03. One Of Us Is The Killer
04. Hero Of The Soviet Union
05. Nothing’s Funny
06. Understanding Decay
07. Paranoia Shields
08. CH 375 268 277 ARS
09. Magic That I Held You Prisoner
11. The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons
By this point, it’s almost unarguable that Morris Plains’ own The Dillinger Escape Plan are at the peak of the mathcore game. With only guitarist Ben Weinman remaining from the original lineup, it’s entirely unsurprising that no DEP record has ever been the same, and this has pushed them to create and innovate time and time again in ways that few others have to such a consistent degree. One could argue that they’ve been getting mellower as time goes on – Calculating Infinity was all arithmetical absurdity, whilst Ire Works featured a couple of more radio-friendly style songs, and 2010′s Option Paralysis saw a couple of what I like to call “dark jazz-lounge” sections that, whilst indeed less ‘hardcore’, highlighted the band’s diversity, and cemented them as the genre’s most exciting trailblazers.
The title track is an early example of this trend continuing. Dillinger albums have always spent the first four or five tracks blowing your socks right off – think “Panasonic Youth” into “Sunshine The Werewolf” on Miss Machine, “Fix Your Face“/”Lurch” from Ire Works and “Good Neighbour” from their most recent – but after the business-as-usual frenzy of openers “Prancer” and “When I Lost My Bet“, ”One Of Us Is The Killer” slows us right down. This is in itself off-kilter, and it certainly throws a spanner in the works, but it’s a clever tune; it starts off in a similar manner to the crooning of OP‘s ”Widower” and large parts of “Chinese Whispers” – that dark jazz-lounge again – but its dense breaks are never far away, and it features a fantastically memorable chorus line.
So never fear; this is no Jamie Cullum tribute album. There’s variety aplenty, but the soul of Dillinger is still rooted in the stabbing, waspish riffs, the eye-crossing drum patterns, and of course the hyperkinetic time signatures. All are in boastful health: penultimate tune “Crossburner” is dark and furious, with a morose bass tone underlying the song throughout, and juxtaposing the ferocity of the intermittent big, epic sections of open chords that dominate the heavier end of the song’s spectrum.
There are going to be those who will feel that this is not a worthy Dillinger record – especially my pet hate, the insipid Calculating Infinity-purists – because it sacrifices consistent intensity for experimental flair. I feel this is foolish; it’s not as if there aren’t a few choice throwbacks to earlier material – I’ve already made multiple comparisons to older material, and “Paranoia Shields” sounds a lot like “Setting Fire To Sleeping Giants” in places – but then again, if there is anywhere One Of Us Is The Killer falls down a little at times, it is this. With an extensive back catalogue of sounds drawn upon, there’s no particular theme running throughout, and so this is more a collection of songs, all with a similar modus operandi of dichotomous dark and light. All of the tracks are clever in what they do, but if one or the other were cherry picked for a set, I wouldn’t cry over most of the others being absent.
That being said, “When I Lost My Bet” and “Nothing’s Funny” are sure to be fan favourites for the old Dillinger feel, and with the latter, Greg Puciato’s ability to write a catchy chorus. He, and the rest of the band, are on faultless form ability-wise. The interplay between Weinman and drummer Billy Rymer is astounding at times; playing both together and also independently of each other in tantalising fashion.
Ultimately, what you want The Dillinger Escape Plan to do for you will dictate your feelings towards One Of Us Is The Killer. It’s not my favourite record of theirs, and nor do I see it being any time soon, but it’s still a strong release, and discounting its quality because it might not live up to your desires will be doing yourself a disservice. This record is brave and bold, and whilst not a roaring success, it’s ultimately puissant in what it sets out to achieve: experimentation.