An album title like One of Us Is the Killer immediately inspires paranoia and suspicion. It’s that feeling that the people around you, the people closest to you, cannot even be trusted. The Dillinger Escape Plan’s fifth studio album serves as the optimal soundtrack to a relationship unraveling violently. Continuing their successful fusion of metal with elements of hardcore and math rock, the band forges an intense, ear-gouging experience, while maintaining the same rhythmically and sonically complex exoskeleton that makes their sound so stimulating.
As far as Dillinger’s output is concerned, One of Us Is the Killer is a fairly textbook release, and since they have remained consistent in their abilities to craft their own distinctive flavor with minor augmentations, they are still sounding as sinewy as ever. You have Greg Puciato’s harsh wails, the schizophrenic guitars and drums and sudden, unpredictable detours. These deviations often result in unnerving shifts in both volume and mood, but even though the band might temporarily refrain from bludgeoning the listener, there is always a sinister aura crawling beneath the listener’s skin. The product of this daunting presence is a forty-minute thrill ride into the heart of indignation.
The Dillinger Escape Plan jumps directly into the fray with the opening track “Prancer” with fickle spurts of utter turmoil, carried by the spastic percussion and riffs. While the record often sprints toward the finish line, the lateral shifts feature more melodic and foreboding conduits of anxiety. Songs like the title track, “Nothing’s Funny”, and “Paranoia Shields” manage to uphold the LP’s overarching tension, presenting ample room for the band to build on this emotional house of cards. Puciato’s cleaner vocals still feel just as urgent and effective as his furious shrills. Of course, when Puciato and company decide to let themselves go, the picture becomes grittier. “When I Lost My Bet” and “Understanding Decay” focus on velocity and never look back as messy time signatures display the band’s inherent volatility. Still, for the most part, the album sounds meticulous and well-developed—and the progression attests to the group’s stylistic audacity.
Also, the band never misses an opportunity to unleash acrimony. On “Hero of the Soviet Union” Puciato lashes out at deception, dishonesty, and manipulation in three minutes of ferocity. From the dizzying guitars to the menacing backing vocals, this song is recalcitrant to the bone. Yet, despite the stretches of brutality, this album still brings the band’s unique brand of metal into more digestible territory. Some hooks come about naturally to provide instant satisfaction, but it never feels as though the band has made any concessions. However, there are a few moments where the album’s flow is slightly broken, particularly during the latter half of the record with tracks like “CH 375 268 277 ARS.” This instrumental is quite robust in its own regard, but in the context of the album it feels unwarranted (especially after the thrust established by “Paranoia Shields”). Nonetheless, One of Us Is the Killer remains fierce throughout its duration, whether it’s clawing at the listener’s face or simply sending shivers down the listener’s spine.
The Dillinger Escape Plan’s fifth LP is a force to be reckoned with. It does not re-invent the wheel, but it refines the Dillinger’s best attributes and exhibits the larger scope of their ambitions. This is a band that uses restlessness to their advantage, and their dexterity shines through here. Therefore, they’re threatening, electrifying, and shamelessly provocative.
When I Lost My Bet
Hero of the Soviet Union