Dillinger Escape Plan
"Option Paralysis"

(Season of Mist/Party Smasher Inc. 2010)Dillinger Escape Plan - Option Paralysis

There are precious few bands anymore that are able to generate an anticipatory buzz about an upcoming album like the Dillinger Escape Plan. Of course there are the fans that slobber over the chance to devour the mathcore pioneers' new material, but there also seems to be a peculiar segment of followers that are just as eager to hear what the band has to offer, if only to complain incessantly about it. There are some who feel that the band's two previous albums, "Miss Machine" and "Ire Works," sounded too similar, while an even larger and more hilarious group hates anything that doesn't sound exactly like debut LP "Calculating Infinity" (to be perfectly fair, it's kind of preposterous to expect a band with the turnover rate that Dillinger has to keep sounding the same; seriously, they have a casualty list that would make Stalin blush). "Option Paralysis," the newest entry into DEP's catalog, should go a ways to pacifying the former, and yet further infuriate the chaps in the latter.

Fans expecting Dillinger's patented angular, bone-scraping technicality won't be disappointed, there's plenty of algorithmic assault in the form of Ben Weinman's epileptic guitar nailgunning. Thing is, while there are plenty of parts like that burn like "old Dillinger," there are now a scant handful of complete songs ("Good Neighbor," "Crystal Morning") blowing past you at 1000 mph. There's always some trickery lurking around the corners and in the shadows, like eerie clean passages and swelling choruses influenced by more "traditional" metal. Take a song like "I Wouldn't if You Didn't," which begins with some guitar-in-a-blender fireworks before giving way to smooth piano and soulful melody, only to abruptly rip back into more face-peeling. And speaking of piano, it features prominently in six-and-a-half minute album centerpiece "Widower." In the tradition of "Black Bubblegum," it has heavy pop leanings, albeit Dillinger-style; aside from the piano, there's heavy melodicism and melodic heaviness, and vocalist Greg Puciato showing off his impressive vocal talents, from rough aggression to falsetto croon.

DEP has been slowly pushing away from the subgenre box that "Calculating Infinity" helped create. Until now, though, they weren't quite able to reconcile the need to retain their altogether unique identity with their obvious desire to, you know, try new things. "Option Paralysis" is a nearly perfect synthesis of the sound they were reaching for over the last two albums, especially having shed all of the unnecessary fluff from the somewhat obtuse "Ire Works." And even though there isn't anything here as overtly catchy as that record's "Milk Lizard," the hooks now come in the form of meticulous song crafting, complex grooves courtesy of new drummer Billy Rymer, and Puciato's most impressive vocal performance to date.

It must have been tempting for the Dillinger Escape Plan, even with their limitless talent and creativity, to repeat the formula that made "Calculating Infinity" so revered and influential. But thankfully, at least from a listener's standpoint, the band has continued to mature, evolve, and write increasingly outstanding music. There are no doubt people out there who would have liked "Option Paralysis" to be ten straight songs that sound exactly like "43% Burnt," and those short-sighted folks will once again walk away with a tear in their eye. But Dillinger has proven that kind of thinking to be obsolete; and on this, the band's best work since "Infinity," they've also proven that repeating their past successes would actually be a regression for them.

A

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