The Dillinger Escape Plan‘s fourth record, Option Paralysis, has been one of the most anticipated records of this year so far. And for good reason, people are really taken by this band and their unique style. DEP has released some seriously wacky, sporadic records in the past that are both crazy and challenging and yet so very enticing and addictive, even teaming up with Mike Patton (and others) on an EP called Irony Is a Dead Scene. They’re a very hard band to stick into a genre, bordering on technical metal and hardcore as well as pulling in influences from industrial, jazz, acoustic rock and well, you name it, they can do it. That makes them feel very fresh, but can they maintain that freshness on Option Paralysis?
I could probably sum the review up in one word which answers the aforementioned question: yes. Option Paralysis, while not a terrible stretch from Ire Works, is still remarkably fun, layered and interesting to listen to. The band is able to keep themselves firmly straddling that border between experimental, progressive and sporadic and great poppy sensibility. While some have remarked that they want more blast and scream, from these guys, this Angry Metal Guy thinks it’s damn fresh to hear a band that is able to work clean parts, jazz piano solos and surf guitar tone onto an album without once coming off as feeling forced or even pretentious.
Instead, every track is a sonic adventure of beautifully structured and smartly written parts that blend with seemingly little effort. Vocalist Greg Puciato is definitely part of the reason for this, with a voice that can easily be described as “malleable.” There are very few vocalist I’ve heard like him who have the ability to take on a variety of vocal tones and ranges so that one could actually get the impression that there are different individuals singing different tracks throughout this album. Ranging between Patton and Claudio Sanchez (from Coheed & Cambria, which despite the band being lame, is not an insult), Puciato is remarkable. While being more of a death metal than hardcore kind of guy, I would prefer that he was a bit more guttural in his growls and less hardcore, one cannot deny that the sound works.
Of course, Puciato is far from the only member of this band and they all perform admirably. The music ranges between technical and ridiculous, to simplistic and heavy and even into theÂ more acoustic, as stated earlier, and everything is convincingly done and cohesive. This is one of those records that’s hard to choose standout tracks from, but “Gold Teeth on a Bum” is one of my favorites for its unique vocal performance and the big build at the end. “Widower”, filled with jazz piano and almost late NIN feel, is another fantastic track that I kept coming back to repeatedly. And, while every track on the second half of this album is great, “Chinese Whispers” stands out for its very cool rhythmic approach and a totally ridiculously intense vocal delivery.
The biggest issue with this record is that there are a few throwaway “aggressive” tracks that feel a little less cohesive with the whole, when the band has proven to be so effective at building tracks into perfectly executed chaos. There appears to be more energy for the big, epic and clean parts than there really is for the “mathcore” segments that the band has become so famous for. Both “Crystal Morning” and “Endless Endings” feel like filler and that’s a bit of a bummer, but as a smaller part of a very impressive whole, that is hardly an issue because DEP has once again managed to produce a gripping, brilliant album. Look for this record to be littering year-end top 10 lists. And check it out for yourself.