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Saturday, May 01, 2010

CD Review: The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis

The Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis
2010 Season of Mist
Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Dillinger Escape Plan is one of a handful of metal artists from this generation whom the chronicles will reflect upon as revolutionary. They sit in esteemed company with Opeth, Mastodon, Isis, Pelican, Nile, Fantomas, Wolves in the Throne Room, Boris, Gonin Ish, Sigh, Nachtmystium, Chthonic and Between the Buried and Me. Some consider Dillinger Escape Plan math metal, some tech grind. Either is appropos along with nerd metal and crunk punk, but the truth about Dillinger is they're so far ahead of their peers no mere label will describe them in whole.

Historically Dillinger Escape Plan is as spastic live as their voluminous, swery, speedy cacophony on slab. Almost nobody owns more real estate onstage than this band, where even the tops of amps are scaled and claimed, whatever venue showcases them. To some fans' surprise, Dillinger's appearance on Jimmy Kimmel during their previous album cycle for Ire Works was a suspect house of cards. Yet Greg Puciato led a furious charge to occupy every nook and cranny of the frame on national television and it was glorious.

A befuddling change of labels for Dillinger Escape Plan (considering Relapse Records made them a flagship band) also brings a change in attitude, songwriting-wise. Option Paralysis is the anti-Ire Works, the anti-Miss Machine. As many listeners like to bring up Mike Patton and Faith No More in parallel to Dillinger Escape Plan, consider Option Paralysis the group's Angel Dust. Get around the slinky, dervish "Gold Teeth On a Bum" from Option Paralysis and it's not just Greg Puciato's Patton chops which proves the point. The choruses are hooky but loud, the verses full of agitation and it's the closest this album comes to producing a red-hot single. The echo distortion of Puciato's mike spikes atop Ben Weinman's chunky riffage, and yet the song extends its own life with further protraction. Not the stuff of single making, but it holds the attention as agreeably as anything else Dillinger Escape Plan has done.

Dillinger's previous two albums, in arms with Every Time I Die, Norma Jean and Between the Buried and Me, proved you could weave art overtop boundary-pushing stop-go ratchet tempos. They transcend the straightforward brutality of Napalm Death and Morbid Angel to create sharp-cutting lava melts instead of direct landslides of chaos. Electro grooves, alt shakes and trip hop have diced up some of the jagged insanity of Dillinger Escape Plan's lunatic creations, and yet tunes like "Black Bubblegum," "Setting Fire to Sleeping Giants" and "Panasonic Youth" revealed a transcendental yearning to expand their framework and lure in new listeners.

Option Paralysis is more akin to the spearheaded blizkrieg of Calculating Infinity than their last two albums. For many, this is going to be a delight, because Dillinger goes back to basics but with the benefit of refined minds and expert hands. Some might think they're actually rewriting and rebuffing Calculating Infinity for much of the ride because you will find very little streamlining on this album outside of the steady groove of "Chinese Whispers," which still allots for snaky polyrhyhtm, plus the tranquil piano nocturnes of "Widower," one of the most eloquent compostions Dillinger's ever penned.

"Farewell Mona Lisa" is practically a farewell to all Dillinger has aspired to this point, as their trademark snub grind flails at breakneck velocity on the subsequent "Good Neighbor," "Endless Endings," "Room Full of Eyes" and "Crystal Morning." Forget what you know on Miss Machine. Dillinger Escape Plan essentially kicks their tricks to the curb on Option Paralysis in the interest of wailing forthright with tremendous speed and snap-shrieking guitar work.

In other words, Option Paralysis isn't fucking around. Get in, get out, kick a few teeth (courtesy of Billy Rymer's insane pounding) and serenade a few dropkicked heads on the way with some Patton-esque wooing to ease the pain.

If Mike Patton wasn't so active himself these days (remember Patton filled in with Dillinger for a stint on the EP Irony is a Dead Scene) Greg Puciato would be his heir apparent. Puciato's delivery on Option Paralysis full of suave staccato and raging whips and he never misses his marks.

The tradeoff for all of the repelling tomfoolery and astounding signature waves on Miss Machine, still Dillinger's masterpiece to this point, is to become a more blunt instrument of fury. Option Paralysis is a blue album when played after Ire Works and Miss Machine, but wow, does Dillinger know how to climax, especially on "Widower" and "I Wouldn't if You Didn't." The latter spirals from ugly nasty to opulent sexy before ripping out an abusive pummel 'n stomp sequence in the finale. "Parasitic Twins" may be the only genuine sign of Dillinger Escape Plan willing to hold onto a piece of their last two magnums with its beat machina, melancholy piano and a Beatles-esque hum-along. Beautifully orchestrated, but way left-of-center to keep them under the metal darlings banner. Therein appears to lie Option Paralysis' point.

Not a disappointment against the free-spirited Ire Works and Miss Machine, Dillinger Escape Plan sheds many extracurriculars and instead flexes their core muscle on Option Paralysis. This is why the term "post hardcore" is utterly bogus. Post, our in-the-now asses! The Dillinger Escape Plan shows no sign of relent and despite a sway backwards in style, they are as relevant as ever. Option Paralysis feels naked in many ways, but the intention to strip down rings loud and clear. If anything, Dillinger Escape Plan exhibits a due diligent harness of their flashpoint cadence while keeping a grip on their never-ending teeter.

Nobody else of this generation outside of Mastodon and Between the Buried and Me makes math metal sound so elementary.

Rating: ****


Anonymous said...

dep = gods

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

lol, I can dig it