The Dillinger Escape Plan Fuse Frenzy With Heart on “One Of Us Is The Killer”
The Dillinger Escape Plan has never been a band to exercise much restraint when it comes to their unique brand of spazzy mathcore, but with their last couple of albums, we have begun to see a much more deliberate and refined side to the group’s madness. I, for one, am thankful that the range of this undeniably impressive, yet forever bewildering, outfit is expanding into groovier and more mellow moods at times, but don’t get it twisted — DEP’s music is still extremely challenging and difficult to put your finger on, so much so that it’s hard to even call it “progressive” since the time changes seem more frenetic and otherwordly than mere prog can handle.
One of is the Killer‘s first track and lead single, “Prancer,” blasts out of the gate with a screeching syncopated pattern that immediately gets your heart racing and sets a mood fraught with dissonant tension. With the following song — the equally powerful but slightly denser “When I Lost My Bet” — and the third (and title) track, the band really settles into the true essence of this album, purveying a bit more mature style and character than we are accustomed to from the Plan. The latter is a song that could certainly be played on the radio, complete with sing-along-able clean vocal’d hooky chorus and a midtempo groove that’s meaty and infectious.
It’s back to chaotic force for “Hero of the Soviet Union”, and although this Bungle-ish tune (as well as the next one, “Nothing’s Funny,” and seventh track, “Paranoia Shields”) reminds us how much of a boner DEP He-Man frontman Greg Puciato has for Mike Patton, the joke is really on us, because Puciato can sing quite well. He manages to implement simple yet striking lyrics into very recognizable, comfortable melodies, while his misfit band of musicians lay down some of the craziest foundations we will probably hear this year. The aforementioned title track displays a fiery blend of originality in its vocal technique, and continues pushing forth an original melodic voice that is joyously finding itself. At the same time, Puciato continually proves himself to be a brooding beast — when he whispers, then sings, then screams “don’t… be… SCARED,” you almost want to trust the mighty muscled man, even though he could put his fist right through your body if need be.
Having just seen the band perform live, I can truly attest to their showmanship; DEP makes kids completely lose control via artful rage that isn’t afraid to push the envelope and spit in your eye, and we need that in this world. But becoming familiar with the many jewels on this new album makes me feel that the spectacle that is The Dillinger Escape Plan, arguably at one time the strongest value of this band’s music, can finally take a backseat (or sidecar position at least) to the stellar songwriting we are hearing more and more with every record. Rather than only trying to follow along with the oft-incomprehensible changes, we are now also given several melodies that will get stuck in the dome-piece for days, and it’s about fucking time.
I must also express my deep respect for the prodigiously talented players in this band; drummer Billy Rymer consistently blows my mind and his kit has such a wonderfully rich sound that anchors the frenzy. Building off of the always fluid basslines Liam Wilson contributes to the rhythm section, guitarist and only remaining original member Ben Weinman (one of our favorite Jews, and a former cripple brother of mine) continues to be one of the most entertaining bugouts in our scene today. Live, the little fucker leaps from surface to stage and back again like a squirrel with a never-ending supply of PCP. New (ish — he played with DEP from 2004-2006 on the Miss Machine tour) guitarist James Love fits right in as well, filling Jeff Tuttle’s shoes nicely and keeping his cool playing all the difficult parts on his plate, even when the stage is filled with sociopathic moshers everywhere.
This could be music to play for deranged criminals in order to drive them mad, but somehow, I think they’d just end up smarter and more lethal.