One can safely assume that to hold tenure in THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, you'd best exhibit the deepest level of commitment to what the band stands for. Alongside MASTODON and BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME, this remains one of modern metal's most intelligent and gifted technical bands. The departed personnel that have been assumedly ground to bits within THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN tells a story in itself. Four former guitarists including the recently departed Jeff Tuttle, two drummers, a bassist and vocalist, all pushed to the extreme in a band that has served up a succession of excellence including their savagely brilliant collaboration EP with Mike Patton, "Irony is a Dead Scene".
It's no secret that THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN represents the ludicrous speed next level of "King For a Day, Fool for a Lifetime"- and "Album of the Year"-era FAITH NO MORE. For a band pushing their own wherewithal to the nth degree as DILLINGER already has, it's amazing they still sound like they have a resolute will to matter. 2004's "Miss Machine" and 2007's "Ire Works" are two of the finest albums released in the American metal resurrection, taking the band far beyond their spastic pandemonium in the studio and onstage, where they've proven there's no boundary they won't cross in either climate. To watch these guys perform is to watch bodies pinballing over every square inch of their stage and multiple mosh pits generating on the floor. Even the tops of DILLINGER's amps have served as an entire frontier to conquer.
It might be said that THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN hit such a creative pinnacle with "Miss Machine" and "Ire Works" that so many listeners dialing in might've been too many, so to speak. Their last album "Option Paralysis" and now their fifth full-length, "One of Us is the Killer" are unapologetically loud, abusive and nowhere near as user-friendly as their two predecessors, even if the latter still manages to turn tuneful dimes with full pardons every single time.
The majority of "One of Us is the Killer" is cold and searing, thorough and igneous, bonding more with THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN's manic debut "Calculating Infinity" than "Ire Works". It's apparent Greg Puciato is simply smitten by the continued emulation of his vocal hero, Mike Patton and his range mincing continues to work like a charm. "One of Us is the Killer" has its handfuls of blaring FAITH NO MORE chugs and disarming jazzy syncopations ala MR. BUNGLE. Proof positive both entities play a hand on the detailed yet step-heavy "Paranoia Shields". After Puciato slips into his interpretation of Patton's succinct high altos on one of the bridges, the band jacks up the tone (following a Chicago-esque jazz-rock interlude) and punches the track home with a palatable rock drive. Ditto for the well-tailored single, "When I Lost My Bet", the most accessible song DILLINGER has written since "Milk Lizard" and "Black Bubblegum".
Most of this album, like "Option Paralysis", is back to the band's original grain emphasizing calculated shred and punctuated hardcore shrieks from Puciato and lead guitarist Ben Weinman. One can only assume the score of rhythm players in the past flung themselves all around DILLINGER's stage as survival tactics in the midst of the group's all-encompassing bedlam.
As with so many contemporary tech-heavy screamcore acts, the lyrics of "One of Us is the Killer" more often than not have nothing to do with the song titles. It's become such a bald-faced art form in itself it's nearly pass?, yet THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN continues to sell the concept better than anyone with feverish aggression on "Prancer", "Nothing's Funny", "Hero of the Soviet Union" and "Understanding Decay". While a bit more refined this time as opposed to the bit-by-bit assembly process of "Option Paralysis", Weinman surgically stitches his oppressive riffs to match Billy Rymer's climactic fills on the kit. While Rymer and bassist Liam Wilson forge a punishing rhythm section, the intricacies of Weinman's arithmetical songwriting wrangles them back before they can blast off in their own unified direction.
To be submitted to the whirlwind gales of THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN as a listener is to keep an attentive ear glued at all times. Yet for all of the brain-baking polarization between creators and audience throughout "One of Us is the Killer", there's a tasteful and melodic upswing to the chorus of "Magic That I Held You Prisoner", a track gauged by the band's own willingness to speed and speed faster. The subsequent track "Crossburner" slows the pace immediately thereafter with an ugly crawl leading up to a slammed-down sequence filled with ear-tearing note taps and an industrial-punk breakaway section. Greg Puciato jockeys for his own space by wringing out his intestines for maximum projection. If you're acclimated to this band, you're no doubt a happy camper by all of this. If not, keep the ibuprofen within reach, especially once "The Threat Posed by Nuclear Weapons" goes for the kill with sledgehammering cacophony countering the aquatic intro and bridge lines from Ben Weinman.
As always, THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN continues to innovate upon their unique form of art-grind. "One of Us is the Killer" is not the polished apple that "Ire Works" and "Miss Machine" are, but there's a higher state of mind and brighter confidence at work here that emits an emotive prognosis for even further growth down the road. As if the subliminal BEACH BOYS whoo-ing in a segment of the blistering "Prancer" isn't a signal of current and future ingenuity. That being said, this band's continued relevancy will be well within their own control.