Review Summary: Option Paralysis is a work of art, but don’t think for a second they’ve gone soft on us.
Scatterbrained as the Dillinger Escape Plan’s music may sound, it is precisely orchestrated and delicately planned as a New York City subway grid. Beginning with their often forgotten, benchmark EP Under The Running Board
, DEP have brought a tenacity and style that remains profoundly unique. In spite of line-up changes - like that of Chris Pennie, who fled to drum with Coheed and Cambria - their vision remains boundless. That distinctive style, which is often cited as being created by the Dillinger Escape Plan, consists of a blend of metal and hardcore trickled with unorthodox time signatures to create what many call mathcore are hardly forgotten. Ben Weinman, the last remaining founding member, has kept guarded this core foundation of the group’s reputation while jazzing up their sound to levels that would leave fans who had missed the period between Calculating Infinity
and now would be left befuddled. However, Option Paralysis
is hardly an identity crisis, an album that jogs and then sprints while remaining perfectly balanced through each new musical tangent.
For weeks now, “Farewell, Mona Lisa” has been all but a tease of possibilities, but more importantly a track that questioned what direction that Option Paralysis
would take. Would it be the frantic first two minutes that would keep the album steadfast or perhaps the artistry of the middle chunk that showed the Dillinger Escape Plan were consistently capable of creating developing tracks? Or even the melodramatic, paramount ending of “Farewell, Mona Lisa” that rivaled the heaviest moments in the band’s long history such as “Sunshine the Werewolf.” It turns out that the wealth was evenly distributed, providing an element of finesse. “Good Neighbor” sets a blistering path with “Crystal Morning” and “Endless Endings” sizing up punch-for-punch with bone-jarring screams. Recently-recruited drummer, Billy Rymer, shows off his technical prowess and versatility in “Endless Ending,” dancing along the ride cymbal and providing blast beats. However, Option Paralysis
is not simply a constant adrenaline rush.
Surprisingly, at forty-one minutes Option Paralysis
is the longest album the Dillinger Escape Plan have released, and that may be credited to the meticulous construction of the album. Instead of the short blips and glitches found throughout the inconsistent Ire Works
, we find the band taking a monumental stride in their ability to create colossal tracks, even if they take a road less ventured. Overall, they have become more graceful, rather than having tracks that flash by quickly (there are only three tracks under four minutes), they create brooding, yet beautiful, soundscapes. Removed of the constant barrage of abrasive riffs, songs like “Gold Teeth on a Bum” and “Widower” leans into a more open, free-flowing structure. The mood of “Gold Teeth on a Bum” comes off as intimidating yet fragile by creating a once blasphemous marriage between metal and pop. Weinman and Jeff Tuttle are incredibly technical and crisp throughout the record while Liam Wilson holds his own ground on bass. “Widower” effortlessly transitions from guest pianist Mike Garson’s heartfelt ballad (yes, you are still reading about a DEP album) alongside Puciato’s vastly improved vocals to a most impulsive, fitting ending of barraging spastic riffs. Essentially, it reminds us of “Mouth of Ghosts” from Ire Works
, but on steroids and executed with less predictability, showing us once again their capability to reach outside their comfort zone.
It’s the chills that run down my spine when Greg Puciato screams ‘REAP WHAT WE SOW’ in “Room Full of Eyes,” the closing breakdown in “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” and the constantly-changing product that bring us back to the Dillinger Escape Plan, even after a the slight letdown of Ire Works. Option Paralysis
equivocates the maturation of musical ideas over the Dillinger Escape Plan’s storied career, as Miss Machine
and Ire Works
are currently looking as mere test samples leading up to this point. In all, Option Paralysis
is a work of art, but don’t think for a second they’ve gone soft on us.