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The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Option Paralysis" (CD)

The Dillinger Escape Plan - "Option Paralysis" CD cover image

"Option Paralysis" track listing:

1. Farewell, Mona Lisa
2. Good Neighbor
3. Gold Teeth On A Bum
4. Crystal Morning
5. Endless Endings
6. Widower
7. Room Full Of Eyes
8. Chinese Whispers
9. I Wouldn't If You Didn't
10. Parasitic Twins

Reviewed by on March 4, 2010

"The entirety of 'Option Paralysis' sounds like a throwback to 'Miss Machine,' but far more epic in scope."

I greeted “Option Paralysis” with equal parts skepticism and anticipation, given my feelings towards the disappointing “Ire Works,” but love of the band's previous works. I dreaded the band changing their style from the jazz-influenced metalcore of years past to a radio-friendly alternative sound a-la Killswitch Engage. Thankfully, those fears have been laid to rest, as not only are the heavier tracks much more developed and memorable than they were on “Ire Works,” but the softer tracks finally have the same quality as Dillinger Escape Plan's more brutal segments, providing more than just a break from the chaos.

The entirety of “Option Paralysis” sounds like a throwback to “Miss Machine,” but far more epic in scope. It is arguably the best album that The Dillinger Escape Plan has ever put out. Beginning with “Farewell, Mona Lisa,” a track that starts like a firestorm before building up to an anthemic chorus and then an even more epic crescendo, and ending with the impossibly soft “Parasitic Twins,” Dillinger has finally succeeded in their long-term goal of creating their version of Faith No More’s “Angel Dust” without ever compromising their music identity. In fact, it's probably not a stretch to say that “Option Paralysis” is what Dillinger’s past two albums were trying to be, and considering this writer's reverence of “Miss Machine,” it's fair to say that “Option Paralysis” has made the past decade of metal seem obsolete.

New drummer Billy Rymer seems to provide what ex-drummer Gil Sharone was lacking but Chris Pennie possessed; being a far more technical and precise drummer than his predecessor, giving the album that much more of a classic Dillinger feel. This career session musician has finally found the right band to suit the incredible talent that he has. At the same time, rhythm guitarist Jeff Tuttle proves to be every bit the equal of ex-guitarist Brian Benoit, providing a strong backing to Ben Wienman's lead playing.

As far as returning faces, the core of the band remains just as solid as ever. Greg Puciato's singing voice has never sounded this good at any point in the past, hitting notes that he never even seemed capable of hitting before without losing any of the abrasive edge of his screaming. Liam Wilson's trademark discordant basslines are still present in the mix, accentuating the guitar's heaviness, while still retaining his own signature style. As far as Weinman’s performance, his soloing is finally up to par with his riffs. Rather than just some occasional jazz jams, Weinman is finally playing some real solos, filling the gap that was the sole weak point of the band in the past. Everybody on this album is at the top of their game, displaying a Dream Theater level of virtuosity and delivering a technical performance that will undoubtedly be the best of the year in terms of raw proficiency.

The best part is that “Option Paralysis" is more than just a move away from the mainstream to please hardcore fans. The tracks lacking in brutality are still very much present and provide some of the best and most memorable moments on the disk. The choruses of “Gold Teeth on Bum” and “Widower” are far catchier than most commercial pop music, while “Parasitic Twins” is a great subtle and atmospheric track that gives the listener a break after such a relentless ass kicking.

Hell, many of the heavy tracks have appropriately epic light segments, while the lighter tracks contain several hints of DEP's jazz-metal brutality, bringing the best of both sides of the band together and ensuring that narrow minds among both the mainstream and underground will be incapable of comprehending what DEP have put together. Then again, the original intent of Dillinger was never to be understood, just to be heard. “Calculating Infinity” was a noisy racket, even to most seasoned fans of death metal, but it still managed to make an impact, no matter how divisive of one, and it's likely that “Option Paralysis” will make the same impact upon the metal scene in the years to come.

“Option Paralysis” - much like “Seasons in the Abyss” was to the 90’s - is a great way to start off the new decade in metal. Against my expectations, Weinman and company have topped themselves. It not only refines everything that makes this band great, but also adds several new layers of depth to Dillinger's sound. Anyone with an open mind towards metalcore needs to hear this album.

Highs: A great way to begin the new decade. Insanely technical playing and a diverse collection of songs.

Lows: Metalcore isn't for everyone. Opening riff to "Good Neighbor" was lifted from "We Are the Storm" on "Miss Machine." Album hasn't been out long enough to give it 5.

Bottom line: Get this album right now.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)