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The Dillinger Escape Plan “Option Paralysis” Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

“Option paralysis” is a bit of a double-edged sword. While having a vast selection of choices is nice there are now near-limitless options in every aspect of our lives—what to listen to, who you can communicate with, what to buy, what to eat—but with that comes a general dulling of the senses and a far-from-subtle process takes over which slowly reshapes our culture. In terms of the Dillinger Escape Plan, while the band weaves a myriad of sounds and genres into the its fourth full-length studio album, it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of diverse sounds that are contained within. Option paralysis, indeed.

Within seconds of unwrapping the album it violently kicks in with the record’s first single, “Farewell, Mona Lisa.” Through a rapid-fire wave of slices and chops, guitarists Ben Weinman and Jeff Tuttle weave together a crushing sound that is only made more devastating with the ferocious beat laid down by the band’s most recent addition, drummer Billy Rymer. Vocalist Greg Puciato adds generously to the package, switching back and forth between his rigged howl and relatively mild wails as the band continues its hot/cold transitions throughout the song.

Though it constantly diverts back to an oddly traditional sounding “rock chorus”, “Gold Teeth on a Bum” stands out on the record due to being reminiscent of the typical pace and guitar tone of the Jesus Lizard. “Crystal Morning” and “Endless Endings” continue the album’s aggressive approach before the oddity—both in sound and as the album’s longest song—”Widower” kicks in. Opening with long-time David Bowie keyboardist Mike Garson’s mellow key arrangement, Puciato wades into the song, changing his delivery a variety of times through the album’s six and a half minutes; the result being something almost Mastodon-like.

Piano is again introduced later in the album’s second to last track, “I Wouldn’t If You Didn’t,” which follows two of Option Paralysis‘ most brutal pieces, “Room Full of Eyes” and “Chinese Whispers.” At times there is so much distance between the sounds conveyed throughout the record, and there is none more distant than the album-closer “Parasitic Twins.” The track has a gentle feel to it—though maybe just gentle when compared to the rest of the album—which uncharacteristically leans on vocal harmonies and a slow, stomping beat before adding a dense wave of guitar. It’s quite the trip.

Over the course of the record’s 10 tracks there are countless shifts in direction, sound, and technique which lend Option Paralysis a significant weight. But with so many choices within the span of 40 minutes it becomes difficult not be distracted by the diversity. For fans of the Dillinger Escape Plan, this is nothing new, but new listeners might find that there is too much to take in that at some point the record becomes a bit of a blur (their loss), further exposing the polarizing nature of the band. For those ready to welcome the music, so too must you be ready to explore an abnormally diverse range of options. For those who aren’t, option paralysis is exactly what you’re likely to experience.