There aren't many bands that maintain a consistency while constantly progressing from album to album. It seems like everyone wants to renew and reinvent their sound so as not to bore their audiences. Dillinger Escape Plan is a band that has never, ever had this problem. Since their spastic beginnings releasing two smashing EPs until working up to their masterful full length debut Calculating Infinity, a title perfectly summarizing the band's ability to craft extremely intricate, jazzy songs, ripe with blasting meter changes.
Miss Machine followed in 2004 showing the band with a more refined sound, switch ups and changes in writing keeping somewhat consistent with Calculating Infinity but progressing the sound immensely. Ire Works (2007) and Option Paralysis (2010) were no different in the progressive scope and continued to showcase the band's constantly evolving sound with more melodic elements, songs that felt more straight forward (but often just as jarring). Cut to 2013 and the imminent release of One of Us is the Killer. There's always a calm before the storm; some nervous element that shakes and rattles in the fan's and band's bones. A constant, fearful question: is One of Us the Killer the album that's going to herald the bells of betrayal and kill the band?
No. It's not. I just wrote that so you'd click the damn link and read on. Spoiler alert: go buy it now.
One of Us is the Killer marks Dillinger Escape Plan's fifth full length album since their forming in 1997 and those that have enjoyed their releases since Miss Machine will find One of Us is the Killer to fit perfectly into the band's repertoire. Everything you've come to expect from the band is on this album: jarring rhythms, breakneck speed, masterfully technical and melodic sections, and an overall superb flow.
The album opens with the smasher “Prancer.” Much like previous album openings, Dillinger Escape Plan lets us know they're not fucking around and just come in swinging. Off beats and fevered melodies shine throughout as the song slows and picks up the pace. And not slowing down for a second they kick into “When I Lost My Bet.” Quite possibly the best song on the album. It spins and weaves riff after riff with time bomb-like blasts, shooting one after another, after another, after another. The song is manic, intense and out of control. Watch the music video that goes with it and you'll feel like you were sucked into E. Elias Merhige's film Begotten.
The title track is ripe with dreamy, jazzy sections and an extremely catchy chorus. It's more straightforward than “Prancer” or “When I Lost My Bet” but much like “Unretrofied” (from Miss Machine) or “Milk Lizard” (from Ire Works) it still feels like a Dillinger Escape Plan song. It's trippy and has those jarring sections that'll snap your neck.
“Hero of the Soviet Union” sounds straight off of Miss Machine. It's rhythmically chaotic with plenty of finger tapping and has a cliff-diver of a breakdown that can level a city block. “Magic That I Held You Prisoner” is similar in scope, mixing choppy riffage with a melodic chorus and seriously out of control drumming.
Other tracks like “CH 375 268 277 ARS” show a love for their 2007 material such as “When Acting as a Wave/Particle” (Ire Works). The track fluctuates and skips like digital distortion. “Understanding Decay” also feels like it could have been cut straight off that album as well as Option Paralysis. It grooves with catchy hooks and breaks down into ghostly melodic sections carried by a bass that sounds like its creeping in the dark.
And yet the track “Paranoia Shields” feels like it could have come from any of these albums. It's like a fusion of “Highway Robbery,” “Chinese Whispers,” and “Nog Eye Gong.” Slowed down, threatening vocals transitioning into a vicious building shout, breaking into screaming, while the instruments lead on, switching between odd leads, rhythmic drives, and intricate drumming.
One of the most standout tracks is “Crossburner.” The moody bassline and distorted mechanical noises scatter throughout while a guitar wails and shakes in the background like a body violently swinging from the death grip of a noose. The build throughout is madness. It'll shake and grip you by the veins. Easily one of the best tracks on the album.
The final track “The Threat Posed by Nuclear War” is a fitting and raging outro track. Dillinger Escape Plan fires from every cylinder with section after section of pure adrenaline, only breaking to scream in your face and give you enough time to get back up before taking out the sledge and finishing you off.
Of all of the Dillinger Escape Plan albums out there, One of Us is the Killer is the most layered album but also their most accessible for anyone just getting into the group. Quiet sections weren't uncommon in many past albums but here many pieces such as leads and licks have been turned down significantly giving them a, well, killer quality. They sneak up and sometimes you don't even notice they're there. Parts of “Nothing's Funny” have quiet licks that sound like scurrying insects.
Though the title might sound like something out of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, it isn't in scope (and thankfully lacks the red herrings Christie loved to scatter all over the place). One of Us is the Killer proves that Dillinger Escape Plan are still, and always will be, some of the best jazz musicians out there making some of the most standout metal that no band on Earth can emulate with such composure. Every time they have released an album it has been a carefully calculated masterpiece that falls into place in some of the oddest ways. One of Us is the Killer is no exception, and is a killer fucking album.