Review Summary: As lethal as ever.
From what I’ve witnessed about The Dillinger Escape Plan’s newest album and its incoming reception, it seems what’s on many peoples’ minds is whether the release will be “the one in which they stumble.” I probably shouldn’t get started on how wretched of a mindset this is, considering any
experimental band will, at some point or another, displease each of its fans. But it’s important to underscore this mindset in order to explain One Of Us Is the Killer
. By deriding the album for failing to live up to its predecessors, we're missing the point entirely. The Dillinger Escape Plan's latest is a successful release on the whole, but it does stumble at times. Some ideas work better than others, and the listen is even occasionally inconsistent. But would the killer moments be as
killer if the lulls weren't there to highlight them? One of Us Is the Killer
operates on an ebb-and-flow basis, demanding patience one minute and then cutting the nonsense immediately afterwards. It's a patchwork of ideas the band's accumulated over the last three years, which is why fearing it to be a dud (after hearing only two tracks out of the album's context) is unequivocally silly. Besides, there's more than enough substance here to sate the hunger of Dillinger's most starving fan.
One Of Us Is the Killer
is easily the most sprawling piece of work The Dillinger Escape Plan has created yet, mostly because of the delicate tweaks the band has installed. Some of the tracks here are as chaotic as we’d expect them to be-- grinding riffs alongside Ben Weinman’s intricate guitarwork and Greg Puciato’s furious shouts-- but they exist to build up tension for the emotional passages. Two tracks in particular illustrate this best: first off, opener “Prancer” breaks down halfway through, torn apart only to be quickly cobbled back together. The moment's instrumentation is insane (as to be expected,) but the guitar chords mesh with Puciato’s disgruntled roars to build something even more massive than before. Elsewhere, “Magic That I Held You Prisoner” grabs the album’s tail end and pulls it onto the fringe of maximum potency. After the song runs through some mathy exercises that portray The Dillinger Escape Plan doing what it does best, it carefully and imperceptibly slows down. Once the track is at a controllable velocity, Puciato shows off his phenomenally improved singing voice, crooning over restrained (but gut-wrenching, nonetheless) instrumental work to inject meaning into the moment. It’s a change in pace one could easily miss without undivided attention-- which is why it’s the album’s most rewarding moment.
One Of Us Is the Killer
’s experimentation can be easy to miss on the first go, which is probably why many of its songs feel so lasting. It’s hard to imagine getting tired of the confidence "Prancer" flaunts, or of the sensible wackiness contained within "Nothing's Funny." The latter track is actually an interesting representation of One Of Us Is the Killer
, revisiting the quirky pop edge of the band’s single “Black Bubblegum” and expanding upon it in a much more satisfying manner. And “Nothing’s Funny” plays similarly to other tracks here, in that the band reimagines older ideas in more logical and lasting ways.
The only areas in which Dillinger’s latest falls flat is in its lack of stylistic uniformity. There are the usual concise bangers like “Hero of the Soviet Union,” whereas tracks like “Crossburner” eschew any sense of succinctness. The track’s more than five minutes long while lacking any obvious purpose, and it stands out in the pack as the laborious black sheep. It turns into something special with enough time-- slow build-ups aren’t the style at which The Dillinger Escape Plan excels, though, and there’s the problem. The band’s fanbase lives for its quick thrills at hand, and the moments of the release demanding a lot of patience are bound to stir up less excitement than the speedy chops for which we’ve all been hoping.
All in all, little has changed with The Dillinger Escape Plan. The band is still going absolutely apeshi
t with its music-- just watch the recent live video released of “Prancer,” with Puciato staring down the inadequate crowd like they’d committed a collective hate crime against him. Sure, part of the interaction likely had to do with the blood smeared on the vocalist’s forehead, but the show attendants have a few things to learn: outlandish stunts, complete musical debauchery and burnt drumsets are to be expected from the group. Dillinger will always be chock-full of controversy, but this year it won’t be because of their album “stumbling,” much to the chagrin of hesitant mathcore purists that view Sumerian Records as the devil incarnate. One Of Us Is the Killer
is the explosion all of us were hoping it’d be, and yes, lethal as ever-- now it’s just easier to pick up the pieces afterwards.