Sumerian Records 2013
Known for their incendiary live performances as much as they are their polarizing musical output, The Dillinger Escape Plan continue to tread a volatile course throughout “One Of Us Is The Killer“. Following a similar trajectory to that of “Option Paralysis“, this latest affair pits melody against a whirlwind of challenging sonic shrapnel, but it’s not entirely business as usual this time out.
While “One Of Us Is The Killer” is certainly abrasive and hungry, it’s not as big of a step away as “Miss Machine” was. Sure there’s an abundance of self progression shown on this album, but its implementation is far more subversive. Rather than brash electronics or full blown stylistic commitments, it’s the fleshed out part changes and indulgent ‘throwaway’ elements that truly stand out.
It’s not just the case of a rabid dog learning some new tricks either. For the albums running order serves as much purpose as the individual songs’ own unpredictable mood swings. Take for instance their jaunt through the repertoire of Refused on “When I Lost My Bet“. The trailing jazzy percussion and motormouth vocals that crop up aren’t entirely out of the bands wheelhouse; but they are utilized to a jarring effect by following them up with the albums title track—which itself is an immediate standout.
Its sultry haze and subdued falsetto sound like something Sade could sing over if not for the underlying creepiness of the guitars and booming chorus. “Nothing’s Funny” follows soon after and chugs through menacing bass lines and high register The Mars Volta-styled weirdness; complete with syncopated keys and a flat out chorus (think “Unretrofied” with a more proggy slant.)
The proverbial segue “CH 375 268 277 ARS” boasts scratchy guitars and a lock-tight rhythm section; making for an unexpected instrumental breather—that is if one discounts the apparent cryptic backmasking buried at the end. It’s the smaller details like this where The Dillinger Escape Plan really sink their teeth in.
The first impression may be a standardized diagnosis of their usual schizophrenia as caustic aggression and conflicted harmonies are the main ingredients. But it’s in the impassioned nods to other genres and the nuanced overdubs and keys and the like that the bands evolution is fully displayed.
“One Of Us Is The Killer” isn’t just a band throwing feverish genre shifts and dissonant time signatures into a blender. There’s far too much layering and sleight of hand lurking beneath the surface to relegate it as just another Dillinger album.
The band still thrive on outright antagonism, but rather than flex their ego and force the listener down an enlightened path, they made it all the more appreciable by hiding it just out of view. It’s convincing proof that sometimes it’s more rewarding when someone doesn’t do all the work for you.
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