Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Album Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan - One Of Us Is The Killer

Album Rating: A-
The notion that kids today are an angry bunch is by and large an accurate stereotype — it permeates society and has stuck around for generations. Young people are angry, but hell, they've got good reason to be. Imagine the frustration of being told to mature whilst being overprotected in the same breath, and just look at how that blurry line between adolescent and adult is exasperated by a blanket sets of laws which dictate your social responsibility by telling you when you can vote, drink and drive. The transition into adulthood is rarely smooth or seamless, and the way in which The Dillinger Escape Plan’s discography has progressed has mirrored this almost perfectly. Beginning with the chaotic fury of Calculating Infinity, the band have labelled One Of Us Is The Killer as “the record where we’re adults now,” and with the band’s maturity has come great confidence, and even greater conviction.

It’s the subtleties that have ripened with age which makes the chaos The Dillinger Escape Plan create into something special. They've been slowly refining their unrelenting sound into a more melodic and varied one for two albums now, and One Of Us Is The Killer treads the same path but travels with an even greater sense of purpose than its predecessors. Ire Works, and “Black Bubblegum” in particular flaunted the band's approachable side, and it’s a direction they've embraced more warmly here even though long time fans of the band may feel alienated. The evolution from the well rehearsed pummel-respite-pummel formula they've traditionally followed into an experimental one feels natural here, as varied song structures and formulas are utilized on almost every track.

We don’t have to wait long to experience the band escape out of their - or rather, snugly demonstrate their new comfort zone. The title track begins tepidly with softly picked guitars and uncharacteristically reserved drums, and what’s more they’re joined by a gentle croon from Puciato. He never threatens to revert to type and ensures that by the song’s end we’re all aware of his vocal talents, talents he sporadically flaunts throughout the rest of One Of Us Is The Killer. The heavily distorted CH 375 268 277 ARS acts as an explosive instrumental interlude which succeeds predominantly thanks to its caution, whilst the soft feminine vocals which underpin “Nothing’s Funny” prove to be perhaps the biggest departure of all, as Puciato battles with the eerie, echoing voice at the song’s chorus.

But don’t for one minute think that all this experimentation has made The Dillinger Escape Plan go soft. Even though the moments of balls-to-the-wall brutality are slightly fewer and farther between, when they are unleashed, the technicality and ferocity are all the more efficacious. The brash “Hero of the Soviet Nation” pummels you mercilessly from the outset with technical guitar work from Weinman and gut wrenching screams from Puciato in the album’s heaviest, most natural offering. Furthermore, album highlight “Prancer” features similarly unrelenting verses and more than justifies its position as lead single — and it agreeably tips its hat to both the styles of new and old in a near ceremonious fashion.

Above all else, One Of Us Is The Killer feels like the band arriving at the destination which Ire Works and Option Paralysis both firmly had in mind. As the band has aged they've inevitably lost some of that youthful angst which dominated their earlier work, but they've more than substantiated the loss by mastering variety and restraint - techniques which have ensured One Of Us Is The Killer is The Dillinger Escape Plan’s best release in almost ten years.

Track List:
  1. Prancer
  2. When I Lost My Bet
  3. One Of Us Is The Killer
  4. Hero Of The Soviet Union
  5. Nothing's Funny
  6. Understanding Decay
  7. Paranoia Shields
  8. CH 375 268 277 ARS
  9. Magic That I Held You Prisoner
  10. Crossburner
  11. The Threat Posed By Nuclear Weapons

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