The Dillinger Escape Plan - One of Us Is the Killer
Record Label: Sumerian Records
Release Date: May 14, 2013
To my knowledge, it seems that there are very few modern bands these days who can come anywhere close to matching the unfaltering consistency of The Dillinger Escape Plan’s back catalogue—that is to say, there aren’t many current bands that have been releasing music for over ten years, and among that already impressively small number, there are even less bands that have actually put out ten years’ worth of good music. From 1999’s insanely innovative Calculating Infinity to 2010’s refreshing Option Paralysis, The Dillinger Escape plan have been continuously awing, inspiring, and steamrolling audiences for the better part of a decade, and still, in 2013, the fans can proudly claim that Dillinger has yet to release a weak collection of songs.
This heightened context, both a blessing and a curse, has audiences simultaneously granting Dillinger a great amount of respect, while still demanding yet another great album. 2013’s One of Us Is the Killer, expectedly, neither falters nor mars Dillinger’s clean name, and it fits comfortably within the band’s discography. It’s not the black sheep (as many fans view 2007’s off-the-wall Ire Works) and, for better or for worse, it doesn’t really stick out as a vast improvement or regression either when compared to the other albums. One of Us Is the Killer simply continues the band’s winning streak without making a huge splash in the proverbial “hype” pond, sure to satisfy longtime fans, but still falling a bit short of Dillinger’s peak potential.
Don’t be fooled, though. There are certainly changes and improvements made on this album, one of the most apparent being Greg Puciato’s vocals, which just seem to get better and better with each release. On One of Us Is the Killer, Puciato’s delivery is at its most diverse, still boasting his signature classic shouting, while also offering low-key talking in the verses of “Paranoia Shields,” falsetto in the title track, and quirky, fragile singing throughout “Crossburner.” It’s amazing that 2004’s Miss Machine had only a handful of tracks with singing, and now, Puciato not only utilizes this clean voice significantly more, but also does it more effectively than ever.
What really sets One of Us Is the Killer apart from other Dillinger albums, though, is the songwriting. Never before has The Dillinger Escape Plan put so many straightforward songs on an album, all which follow the typical pattern of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus. Of course, the instrumentation is still downright insane in plenty of these “verses” and “choruses,” but it’s definitely interesting to hear Dillinger take on a more conventional approach. At times, it pays off beautifully. The title track is probably the simplest song The Dillinger Escape Plan has ever released, but its smart placement between two frenzied tracks and the sheer rhythmic power of the drums and bass in the choruses playing under Puciato’s lyrics “In the air we tried to be, but you shot your arrow through me” is going to keep that simple, catchy song in your head for days. Other times, the typical song structure can be fun at first, like the theatrical drive of “Nothing’s Funny,” but eventually, these tracks come to feel like more of a chore to get through than anything else.
Simply put, most Dillinger fans (including myself) want to hear the pure, unrestrained ferocity for which the band is so famous. More straightforward songs are, of course, a welcomed break after such intense, chaotic tracks like “Hero of the Soviet Union,” which gets so mind-blowingly crazy at one point that it almost sounded like my CD player was going to explode, but when the simpler songs come to infringe on the amount of time allotted to the chaos, One of Us is the Killer starts to feel a bit lacking. “Paranoia Shields” is a fun track with some good harmonies, but I can only hear the tolerable hook in the chorus so many times before I just want to skip ahead and blast the merciless “Magic that I Held You Prisoner.” “Prancer” and “When I Lost My Bet” are the tracks that open the album because they show Dillinger doing what they do best—grabbing a song by the throat and slamming it in a thousand different directions at once.
The Dillinger Escape Plan certainly can write good, simple songs (see: title track), but they still haven’t quite mastered it yet. Importantly, though, there’s enough fantastic, mind-boggling material on One of Us Is the Killer to make it one of the better metal albums released in 2013 thus far, and it’s yet another great addition to The Dillinger Escape Plan’s impressive, untarnished discography.