REVIEW: The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer

Artist: The Dillinger Escape Plan
Album: One Of Us Is The Killer
Genre: Mathcore
Label: Sumerian

So, let’s briefly skip back to 2007. The Dillinger Escape Plan releases Ire Works. It is more abrasive, more manic than previous releases, and essentially drowning in obsessively premeditated chaos. Greg Puciato, clearly in cahoots with some hell-demon, transplanted iron-forging bellows and rusty nails into the space once occupied by his lungs and throat. Ben Weinman, off in some basement, lost his mind and tried to reinvent meter, time signatures, and maybe mathematics as a whole to appalling success. Whether the rest of the guys were in on the sorcery or just under its spell, well, one can only speculate. It was terrifying and harsh but still versatile, (relatively) accessible, and at times downright groovy. Sure, Miss Machine had a moment or two but Ire Works showed a broader technical and musical range.

What’s this got to do with One of Us Is the Killer? Where Option Paralysis was TDEP’s zealous and brutal leap free of Relapse Records and onto their own imprint, it was a bit more straightforward as a technical metal and hardcore event. No harm done. It was awesome. This new offering, though – this is more a spiritual successor to the aforementioned 2007 release. It gets groovy. There are far more instances of electronic bits, several opportunities for Greg Puciato to do his silly pop-diva-esque on-stage writhing, and flat-out blistering minutes of pure terror.

It’s entirely possible that the more uniform addition of propulsive rhythms amidst the technical segments might alienate some fans, or that it unduly lengthens certain tracks. The same can be said of some of the instrumental flourishes with piano, synthesizers, and sampling among others. On the other hand, this isn’t new. Fans know what to expect from this band and this progression has always been subtle and tasteful.

But about those tracks? The Dillinger Escape Plan seems to operate on two agendas simultaneously. First and foremost they are a heavy and extraordinarily technical band. However, they also strive to constantly remind us that they are capable of more than what we file them under at the record store. Two standout examples sit side by side at the beginning of the album.

“One of Us Is the Killer” is the hallmark writhing-Puciato song. Let’s not sell it short, though. Just because the time signature is discernible and fairly consistent doesn’t mean there aren’t strong threads of complexity woven throughout. The entire rhythm section plays with syncopation just when things would have become stale. The guitars play off one another so that there is always something more than just chords being strummed. There’s something to be said, too, for the fact that this is also the title track. Perhaps that for all the mayhem this band strives to rain down on everyone, they can pull off a straightforward rock number with a tasteful layer of complexity. Perhaps it’s a little jab at the rest of rock and roll to step up its game.

The “return to form” of the bunch, “Hero of the Soviet Union,” bats cleanup and indeed belts it out of the park. If we were to plot the progress of the band, this is the median of everything they bring to the table. Relentless and (relatively) short, clocking in at three minutes of exceptional mathcore, the numbers fly at us immediately. Diabolical guitar arpeggios and oddly cartoonish synth embellishments race up and down an ever-shifting landscape of scales. All things eventually collapse into a roaring and extremely satisfying breakdown, led by Greg’s screaming, to end the ordeal.

The examples are many. Each song is worth its own review and analysis. Nothing feels missing and nothing ever really drags out without some payoff later. The recording quality is exceptional and the band continues to innovate.

The mix is more akin to Ire Works as well. Richer and with more emphasis on the hook-laden bass performance. It’s all still incredibly heavy but much clearer with much of the weight coming from the thick, but never muddy, low end. It’s easier to hear how discordant things are with and ripping and shredding and agility of the guitar work on top of that meaty foundation. The clarity of the drumming stands out. For all the wild and frantic polyrhythms, it is also sits tastefully in the mix. This is important because it’s essentially the listener’s only compass for a good portion of any Dillinger record.

Also, did anyone get a stomach-churning moment of “43% Burnt” nostalgia in the first few moments of “Prancer”? Me too.

Score: 9/10
Review written by: Chris Lawless

James Shotwell
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One Response to “REVIEW: The Dillinger Escape Plan – One Of Us Is The Killer”

  1. I got nostalgic many times throughout the album. The best thing is that they successfuly make this comeback to their roots while providing tons of great ideas more in line with their latest albums. And maturing all that. All on a single album :D