Review Summary: Option Paralysis is essentially what Ire Works should’ve been.
The Dillinger Escape Plan made a name for themselves as pioneers. Calculating Infinity was unlike anything that had come before it; combining incredible technical instrumentation, crushing dissonance and a vocal attack that could rip you in two, the album was essentially a masterpiece of technical Metalcore. So, after releasing their first album and completely turning the musical world on its head, it’d be fair to argue that there wasn’t really anywhere else they could go. Then Mike Patton came along and with him, an entirely new approach to what the band had been doing. Introducing more melody and eclectic influences to their sound, the band moved away from the chaos and became more about control. The addition of Greg Puciato and the band’s growing need to experiment furthered these changes.
This lead to Miss Machine, an album that much like its predecessor broke new ground; combining heavy Grindcore/Metalcore sections with electronica and industrial metal, plus a hint of catchiness. Sadly, this all came to a rather terrible conclusion in Ire Works, which for all intents and purposes was a complete screw up. Packed with overused glitch noises, shoddy production and an over-reliance on old ideas. So did The Dillinger Escape Plan learn their lesson and go back to being the ground-breaking band they used to be? The answer is both a yes and a no.
From the album opener, “Farewell, Mona Lisa” a few things are apparent; the first is that unlike Ire Works the band actually seems comfortable again. The song is a rather good representation of what to expect throughout the album, the standard grindy/mathy sections of DEP songs, clean vocals that have been increasingly used since the Patton days and tasteful use of electronics. The song gives you the band in their comfort zone, but the song itself is far from average, as an album opener there isn’t really a better choice.
The album continues to progress, oddly enough, in a manner similar to Ire Works, with the second track being a short punchy Grindcore song followed by one of the albums more experimental cuts. “Gold Teeth On A Bum” features a more subdued incarnation of the band, the song itself is relatively accessible although it’s still quite an interesting piece of heavy music, the only issue with the track is that it can drag at times, still not enough to really impact the listening experience. The album continues in standard Puciato-era DEP style until making its way to “Widower”, a song featuring legendary session pianist Mike Garson, the song showcases a never before seen side of DEP; the majority of the song being a piano driven ballad, although it finally returns to more traditional DEP territory toward the end.
More or less, the album continues in a sort of bait and switch manner giving people their standard dose of Dillinger craziness and then introducing some more eclectic styles. Tracks like “Chinese Whispers” takes ideas that were present on Ire Works and implements them in much more effective manner. Whilst songs like “Parasitic Twins” feature DEP wearing their influences on their sleeve, yet all the while maintaining a sense of originality. With all this in mind, the album is not entirely flawless; at times certain tracks just seem to drag on a little too long, the grind songs whilst as intense and technical as ever aren’t as awe-inspiring as their predecessors like "43% Burnt" and "Panasonic Youth", possibly because the idea has already been showcased before.
Nonetheless the album is still an excellent addition to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s discography, whilst it never truly reaches the heights of the band’s best moments, it also never comes close to some of their less impressive moments. Option Paralysis, is essentially what Ire Works should’ve been, a well structured album that expands on the ideas the band put forward on Miss Machine, whilst at the same time maintaining a level of consistency so as not to entirely alienate their original audience.