Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Dillinger Escape Plan: Option Paralysis (2010) Review

Mathcore kings The Dillinger Escape Plan came out with their latest album yesterday, Option Paralysis. Normally I give an album two or three listens before I write my review, so it can be well-considered and thoughtful, but this time I thought I'd try something a little different. I will be writing this during my first listen, so you should get more detail and see my first impressions. I think it will work well on this album, since these guys always have so much going on.

Here we go.

It starts out with a scream on "Farewell, Mona Lisa." After some standard metalcore they go into a weird mathcore section, and the whole track seems laden with weird counterpoint guitars in the Dillinger style. About 1:50 in it mellows out, but remains interesting. At 2:52 they blend the mellow part with some of the heavier stuff, and about 3:20 it seems to be building up to a conclusion. At 3:50 it's still building up, getting gradually heavier, and begins to end about the 5 minute mark.

Here is the video for the song:

"Good Neighbor" is a weird, abrasive track, like I would expect from Dillinger. About the 1 minute mark they go into a really cool riffing section, which gets even cooler about 1:20, and it remains awesome until the end of the track.

Next up is "Gold Teeth on a Bum," which starts out in a style reminiscent of some of Nine Inch Nails' weirder moments, but quickly switches back to Dillinger. The track is mellower than their average, but manages to maintain the oddness of their style and doesn't become soft. It seems like they've learned to combine some of their more melodic moments with the heaviness they're used to, much like the bands of the Gothenburg scene did with death metal. The track fades out at the end.

"Crystal Morning" is some good old standard Dillinger fare, and really starts to get interesting about the 0:30 mark. At 0:40 they go into a breakdown, and follow up with a cool solo in the background. At 1:10 it goes into an even better breakdown. This is a really great track. At 1:30 it softens up a bit and then breaks down again at 1:45. This is what I love about these guys--once you catch the thread of what they're doing, they do something else, always keeping you on your toes.

Next up, "Endless Endings" seems like more standard Dillinger. It goes into a very strange section about 0:30. About 1:40 it goes into a very different kind of section, builds up to a conclusion, and at 2:10 it goes really aggressive.

"Widower" seems to be a piano-only, morose kind of song as it begins. About 1:40 it starts to get more interesting, with drums and guitars poking in with some strange stuff. At 2:20 the piano seems to take the background to a mostly drum-based passage, and the piano takes on a more unusual role. About the 4:00 minute mark it becomes much heavier and more guitar-based, and at 4:30 it goes into one of the most interesting sections on the album so far. It mellows out again about the 5 minute mark before they begin a heavy closing section about 6:05, and then end it abruptly. This song is incredible, and definitely worth a listen:

The following track is "Room Full of Eyes," a more usual (for Dillinger) kind of track. About the 0:50 mark they switch things up into a very cool interplay of guitar and drums. Man, this song is awesome, very weird--almost Psyopus weird. It goes quiet around 2:15 for a few seconds and then goes into another heavy section, but much less weird and more mid-tempo. It gets into a bass section about the 3 minute mark, and then the guitars come back in about 3:30.

"Chinese Whispers" starts out with some Pink Floyd-like weirdness, until about 0:25 where it gets into a hopping kind of beat. It starts breaking down about the 1 minute mark, and then goes into a section which blends the psychedelic weirdness with the mathcore stuff. Another breakdown comes about the 2 minute mark, and then goes into some really staccato stuff. About the 3 minute mark it goes into some quiet stuff, and then goes into a really great conclusion about the 3:15 mark, again really blending the melodic stuff with the mathcore in an innovative way. It seems they've shed the pop-punk that was present on Ire Works, but learned how to use it in their music instead of jumping back and forth between the mathcore and the pop-punk..

"I Wouldn't If You Didn't" comes next, and seems to be very heavy, very unusual, regular Dillinger kind of stuff. It goes really nuts about 1:20, and gets into some weird guitar solo stuff with some pianos peeking in, then mellows out with some more piano. About 2:20 it goes into a cool section, piano and drum-based with guitar counterpoint. At 2:50 they start moving into the conclusion, and a little after the 3 minute mark it goes really heavy again, and then closes on a scream.

Finally, "Parasitic Twins" is next, which starts out on a Dillinger-meets-Dimmu Borgir kind of tone, again with some hints of NIN. It really reminds me how much Greg Puciato sounds like Trent Reznor. This track has some weird drumming on it. About 2:20 the guitars get really cool for a while, then the song mellows out again for a while. Is that a cello? The piano is definitely present on this one again. About 3:25 it goes into a really cool and unusual passage--even for these guys. A guitar solo breaks in about the 4 minute mark, keeping the dramatic but soft background, and then the album fades out.

The Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars, easily. Now, this is just my first impression, but I think The Dillinger Escape Plan has somehow managed to evolve by leaps and bounds yet again--something they have managed to do on at least three albums in a row now. This is definitely a great album, and probably the best metal album so far this year. It may manage to hold onto that title until the end of the year, although it looks like they will have to contend with Necrophagist, Nevermore, Dimmu Borgir, Soilwork, Volbeat, Death Angel, Cradle of Filth, Enslaved, and Danzig, who may have gotten his act back together in the last six years. Or at least I hope they'll have to contend with all those names as expected.


  1. My early favorite for the year has been Orphaned Land. Rotting Christ's new one is the most likely to dethrone it, although I am looking forward to Enslaved. I have become a bit of a fanboy since seeing them in concert opening for Opeth last year.

  2. Damn, I wish I could have seen that show. I'm not big on going to concerts (I've only been to about four or so) but Opeth is one group I would definitely see.

    I'm not terribly crazy about the new Orphaned Land. Some of their stuff is really good, but I just can't get into it all that much.

    RC is one group I will not listen to. I listen to a lot of bands I don't agree with philosophically or religiously, but when you go so far as to blatantly, unartfully insult God in the name of your group, I can't ignore that.

  3. I'm not a big concert-goer either. I have only been to a handful in my life. I am going to see Overkill in Lincoln in a couple of weeks. I try to go to one a year, but the Nebraska concert scene just isn't too great.

    As for R.C., I was very skeptical about the band as well, until I heard them. The only blasphemous thing about the band is the name, as they deal much more with Greek mythology. The name has gotten them in trouble a lot of times, such as being kicked out of a festival with Megadeth. Their ideologies have apparently changed over the years as they are not Anti-Christian so much as Anti-Religion in general.

    I guess you won't be checking out Impaled Nazarene either. :)

  4. Actually, that band name doesn't bother me so much. Jesus is from Nazareth, and he was impaled, so there's nothing offensive about that. In fact, I could see that as the name of a Christian band. Take Living Sacrifice, for example--a classic Christian thrash (early) and metalcore band, with a name which is clearly a reference to the suffering of Christ just as much as Impaled Nazarene is.