The Dillinger Escape Plan
One Of Us Is The Killer
BMG / Party Smasher
20 May 2013
by Hugh Platt
The Dillinger Escape Plan released their fifth full-length album over seven months before this review was published. Why the Hell would we publish a review of an album that came out that long ago? Why the Hell would anyone care. It’s because One Of Us Is The Killer and our reaction to it says more about our relationship to music itself than we might think, and what it says about it seven months down the line is a Hell of a lot more interesting than what it did at the time of release.
We would’ve given One Of Us Is The Killer a very different review way back in May. We’d have thrown out hyperbolic platitudes over the albums highlights. We’d have mentioned the thrilling, pummelling timbre ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’, which possesses a kind of indignant fury that makes the passing rage of the world metal establishment look like a two year-old throwing a tantrum in Tescos because mummy wouldn’t buy him some Munch Bunch. When Puciato screeches “You smell like shit – not the truth” you can hear the vein popping in his neck when he does it. We’d have talk about how you should feel threatened by this.
Puciato in particular channels his inner-Patton on ‘Paranoia Shields’, a spiritual sequel to ‘Black Bubblegum’ in both pace and lyrical temperament. We’d have remarked about how his cold delivery of “There isn’t a fire that I would waste to burn you” was all the more chilling for his apparent lack of bitterness while singing it.
But having lived and loved and gorged upon this album over the last seven months, One Of Us Is The Killer has had a distinctly different long-term impression than every other album released by DEP. It is the first album from DEP that just battered us externally. It didn’t worm its way under our skin or into our subconscious like a recurring dream. It is just a…good record. That’s all it is.
Does that sound like damnation via faint praise? It shouldn’t. One Of Us Is The Killer is still one of the best records of 2013, but it fails to match the imperiously high and virtually unrivalled standards of the band’s own previous works. But the more we thought about it, OOUITK felt like an amalgamation of Dillinger’s hallmarks. It was the sound of a band showing what they could, do, and showing it well, but showing us the merest possible twist on those tricks, as opposed to how they practically geographically up-ended us in the past.
The dictionary definition of a fractal is as follows:
A curve or geometrical figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. They are useful in modelling structures (such as snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth and galaxy formation.
In laymans’s termsm, a fractal is an image that you can magnify any part of, continuously, with each magnification actually being a perfect smaller representation of the total shape. In many ways, this record feels like a fractal for DEP’s entire career to date. Seven months down the line, it feels like everything DEP have ever done, squished and squashed into a single block of sound. But it’s the juice that leaked out from that hyper-dense pressing – the certain special Dillinger buzz that permeates Option Paralysis to such an extent that it still causes the hair of the back of our necks to rise when we listen to it – that’s missing, and it’s that absence that makes OOUITK “merely” a good record, not a classic one.
As Greg Puciato himself told us earlier this year, “The album has meaning or represents something to us as a band and lyrically it has meaning to me but there is no outward message to other people.” This view makes sense when you put OOUITK in context with the rest of DEP’s body of work – the idea of “progression” as a forced concept, some requirement we as an audience have on our bands, finds no place here. There are no giant leaps from the considered dynamism of Option Paralysis, or the moon-barking pre-planned weirdness of Miss Machine and Ire Works.
If we had reviewed this album back in May, would we have been able to admit that? Or would our unflinching devotion to Ben Weinman and co. have prevented us from being honest with both ourselves and to you about how good this record really is? We’re a touch ashamed to admit we don’t think we would’ve.
One Of Us Is The Killer is a slippery album that draws upon DEP’s spectrum of experiences, but resolutely rejects fitting in to anything like a quantifiable position in DEP’s career trajectory. The sheer density of this record – even after a dozen listens, new facets like the sample in the title-track that sounds like a spinning bicycle wheel seem to popup from nowhere – makes One Of Us Is The Killer still a joyously baffling and inspiring listen. However that defiance to slip neatly into Dillinger’s wider discography is more a sign of this record cherry-picking from across the breadth of their career rather than obtusely trying to stick out from it. A not-quite-their-best Dillinger Escape Plan was a more welcome prospect than damn near everything else released this year, but we’d have been lying to you if we’d reviewed this back in May and given it a 5.5.
Sounds Like: Greg Puciato no longer cares if fanboys say they’d have preferred it if Mike Patton had replaced Dimitri Minakakis permanently.
Standout Tracks: Hero of the Societ Union, Paranoia Shields, Crossburner