You could call it music. Or you could label this what it really is: sonic grievous bodily harm that’s designed to stun, wound and maim. It’s death by musical firing squad at the hands of a guitarmy of pumped-up whackjobs who, drunk on their own testosterone, have gone feral to fight their own war. Because The Dillinger Escape Plan have never been just another metal band.
Not for them the tried and tested and tired formulas of rock music. Destruction and evolution is the name of their game and with eight previous members and a handful of record labels in their wake, they have grown into a giant threshing machine of an entity, chewing up sound, crunching through the bones of lesser bands and spitting them out in hot chunks of torn flesh. They are a battalion whose sum is greater than their parts, their philosophy and compositional approach always as close to the avant-garde and free jazz as any straight-up rock or hardcore influences.
Exploding like a letter-bomb in your face, monumental opener Prancer could be a lost cut from 1999’s Calculating Infinity – and that’s no bad thing, because for a few very fleeting moments a few years back it was looking like Dillinger were in danger of becoming Just Another Band. Perish the thought. There are no such concerns on the staccato When I Lost The Bet, though, a caustic song that cranks those jazz rhythms up to the point of terminal velocity.
A different beast entirely, the lounge lizard-ish One Of Us Is The Killer recalls The Real Thing-era Faith No More. Certainly the quintet manage to conjure the same lascivious and malevolent vibe of a serial killer kicking back with a few cocktails after a freeway killing spree that Mike Patton and co – but especially Patton with his Fantômas and Tomahawk projects – always excelled at.
This is steroid-metal played with menace – and like a pill-popping ’roid head with a thousand-yard stare and a desire to get bigger and heavier than is humanly necessary, it’s unpredictable, volatile stuff. Hero Of The Soviet Union and Understanding Decay up the sonic ante further, singer Greg Puciato shifting between sneer and scowl, croon and bloodcurdling howl. And all the while Ben Weinman and James Love’s guitars stab and snipe over rhythms that judder like a wrecking ball hitting solid concrete.
On their fifth studio album, The Dillinger Escape Plan sound a broader and more unnerving band than ever. Maybe recent debut shows in Malaysia, Thailand and Colombia have widened their worldview, but One Of Us Is The Killer is a distillation of everything that makes the quintet great. It’s focused but ferocious, heavy but nuanced, a mind-melting medley of malevolence, menace and the occasional melody too.
Instead of painting themselves into a corner or going overtly mainstream they are now simply The Dillinger Escape Plan, leaders in a genre of precisely one, and this is the pinnacle of their career to date.